Feds Release Guidance on Responding and Minimizing Impact of DDoS Attacks

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) have recently given guidance for federal and private organizations on the reduction and mitigation of distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

These attacks are carried out to overload apps and websites with traffic, therefore rendering them inaccessible and stopping legitimate users from getting access to that service. A Denial of Service (DoS) attack leads to a network resource overload that affects all bandwidth, hardware, and software, protocol resource overloads affect the available session or connection sources, and application resource overloads utilize all compute or storage assets.

With DDoS attacks, the traffic originates from several devices that are acting together. They may entail big amounts of traffic and have the probability to trigger hardware troubles. Botnets or slave armies of malware-attacked devices are frequently utilized to execute DDoS attacks at scale, and they are much more prevalent because of the big increase in IoT devices. The botnets are frequently rented out to threat actors, therefore, enabling unskilled individuals to carry out DDoS attacks.

These attacks may be temporary; however, continuous attacks can considerably interrupt critical services, leading to substantial remediation expenses and significant reputational harm. These attacks are just concerned with creating disruption and do not involve getting access to systems or data theft; nevertheless, cybercriminal groups are known to carry out DDoS attacks to distract IT teams at the same time an attack is carried out on another portion of the network. With the focus of security groups focused elsewhere, there is less chance that data exfiltration, malware download, or ransomware deployment will be noticed. It is consequently essential that any response to a DDoS attack does not lead to the neglect of other security monitoring.

Stopping and Minimizing the Effect of DDoS Attacks

What is important to protecting against DDoS attacks and minimizing their severity is preparation. All vital assets and services that are accessible to the public Internet should be identified, with those applications and services prioritized. It is important to implement web application firewalls to secure the most critical assets. Cybersecurity protocols must be implemented, including hardening servers and patching immediately. Understanding how users connect to the services and knowing any chokepoints can make it less difficult to carry out mitigations to stop interruption to key stuff.

Think about enlisting in a DDoS protection service, ideally, a dedicated DDoS protection service, because those offered by ISPs are not as strong and may not safeguard against bigger attacks. These services enable the identification of the source of the attack and will reroute traffic somewhere else. Managed Service Providers can probably assist and provide DDoS protection, which includes giving custom network edge defense services.

Do something to avoid single points of failure, for example, having a high-value asset hosted on a single node. Load balancing throughout multiple loads is recommended. It is additionally important to create an incident response plan, particularly for DDoS attacks. All stakeholders ought to keep in mind their duties through all phases of an attack to make sure a quick and efficient response is possible. You should likewise develop a business continuity plan to make certain that business operations can carry on in the event of an attack, and tabletop exercises must be done to check those plans.

Steps to Take During an Attack

In the event of an alleged attack, like when there is network latency, slow application performance, abnormally high traffic, or the unavailability of websites, technical experts ought to be contacted for support. Check with your ISP to find out if they have an outage, and understand the nature of the attack, like where the traffic is originating from and which apps are being targeted. This will let you to employ targeted mitigations and work with service providers to block the attack immediately.

Although an attack may target a particular application, keep track of other network assets, as they may be concurrently attacked. Specific mitigations for dealing with DDoS attacks are mentioned in the MS-ISAC Guide to DDoS Attacks.

Recovering from a DDoS Attack

Following an attack, continue monitoring all network resources, learn from the response, and revise your incident response plan appropriately to correct any facet of the response plan that didn’t run efficiently. You must furthermore make sure you proactively keep an eye on your network and create a baseline of normal activity since this will enable you to quickly identify ongoing attacks in the future.