Essential Features Required for an Efficient DDoS Mitigation Solution
DDoS attacks affect millions of websites every day. AppTrana blocked 336 million DDoS attacks on 405 websites in Q4, 2022, an increase of 74% from Q3.
Indusface continues to observe a steady flow of DDoS attempts against customers:
DDoS attack trends – The State of Application Security Q4, 2022
No business is safe. How can you protect your business against DDoS?
DDoS attack mitigation solution is the best weapon to protect your business against the attack.
Not all DDoS security vendors offer the same level of features and protection. The best bet is to know the must-have features of DDoS to stay secure and productive.
What are the key features of a DDoS mitigation solution? How to choose the right solution? Get the answers to all your questions in this DDoS mitigation guide.
What is DDoS Mitigation?
DDoS mitigation refers to reducing or diminishing the impact of an attack on a network. They are designed to conserve the resource availability, which attackers target to disrupt.The success of the DDoS protection solutions is measured when an application targeted in an attack is protected and kept up and running.
Why do you need DDoS Mitigation Solutions?
Cybercriminals are gaining the edge in tactics to deny the service. They can take your business offline for minutes, hours, or weeks. Kaspersky reported that DDoS attack cost enterprises over $ 2M on average.
The tangible costs of DDoS attacks include
- Cost of getting the application up and running again
- Revenue lost from customers as the application was unavailable
- Ransom in case the hackers demand it
The intangibles include
- Brand Reputation
- Loss of customer trust affecting future sales
Adding security control in the form of a DDoS mitigation solution can reduce your risk of DDoS damage. A few key benefits of mitigation solutions are:
- Minimize business risk and reduce downtime
- Minimize costs related to web security without compromising quality
- Preserve website and application performance throughput attacks
- Defend against existing and new threats based on security rules
- Protect against evolving attacks with up-to-date security policies
How does DDoS Mitigation Work?
DDoS mitigation works by identifying and blocking the source of the attack traffic, such as by using firewall rules or rate limiting. Additionally, a DDoS protection solution absorb and filter the attack traffic before it reaches the protected network or website. These solutions often use traffic shaping, filtering, and redirecting traffic to a scrubbing center, where the attack traffic is analyzed and filtered.
For an explanation of how DDoS mitigation works, check out this short clip from my recent webinar, “Fundamentals of DDoS Risk Mitigation.”
Click here to watch the complete webinar replay.
The DDoS mitigation solution works in four stages:
The first step in countering a DDoS attack is to absorb the attack, so the application doesn’t go down. Whatever solution you choose, it is critical to understand how much testing has been done on requests per minute and concurrent IPs.
Ideally, cloud-based DDoS protection solutions are better as they have autoscaling available. On-premises solutions fall short as the number of servers limits them.
The next step is to detect that it is a valid DDoS attack. The solution should be able to tell:
- How many requests coming at a URI level?
- How many requests from an IP?
- How many requests are at a session/host level?
- How many requests are in the overall domain?
The next step is to prevent the attacks from being passed on to the application. The DDoS protection solution identifies attack vectors and blocks requests made with those attack vectors. The solution then detects diverse multi-vector attacks.
AI plays a big part in DDoS attack mitigation techniques. The DDoS attack mitigation solution should ideally be able to use past data and predict site behaviour.
At any point in time, the solution should be able to recommend and apply “rate limits” as granularly as possible. These include URI, session/host, IP, and domain rate limits.
Retaliation is where “managed services”, or DDoS protection services offered by WAF vendors shine.
While AI can recommend rate limits and even apply “blocking rules,” having a DDoS mitigation solution will reduce false positives to a great extent. After all, fundamentally, DDoS attacks look like legitimate requests.
A DDoS mitigation solution works in two phases:
- Monitoring: The managed services team monitors all incoming alerts. For example, let’s say that an image file usually accessed once a minute is suddenly accessed 100 times a minute. Overall, at a site level, it is a small increment in requests. However, the AI will alert the managed services team and the application owner.
- Mitigation: The second step is mitigation. After analyzing all trends, including requests per minute, malicious IPs, and so on, the solution provider team should be able to add surgical rate-limiting rules. Other mitigating mechanisms should also be added, including tarpitting, CAPTCHAs, and more.
Key Features of DDoS Mitigation Solutions
Here are the advanced features of Behavioral based DDoS protection that provide ultimate protection against sophisticated DDoS attacks.
1. Rate Limiting
Rate limiting is a standard feature of the DDoS attack mitigation method. It enables you to limit the traffic coming from certain IPs. It helps block the apps, users, or bots from overusing your resources.
In addition to static rate limiting, the solution should be able to configure policies based on the behaviour of the application. In case of an anomaly, the solution should be able to trigger an alert.
2. Granular Level Controls
DDoS mitigation solutions enable you to add granular configurations to prevent attacks with custom policies. Users can define policies based on Geo, URI, IP headers, and source and destination IP.
The threshold for these policies should ideally be auto-configured via behaviour-based traffic profiling. That said, marketing campaigns could generate bursts of requests, and leveraging the managed services team for DDoS protection will help reduce false positives.
3. Global Controls
IP whitelisting and blacklisting play a critical role in managing internal server requests and requests that come from actual users.
Blacklisting and Whitelisting specific IP addresses or countries is very important for the following reasons:
- You do not want some parts of your application to work for specific countries
- You do not want to make some parts of your application available for public access
- You want to allow good bots to access your application
- You have internal servers that make abnormally high requests to your production server; neither should they be blocked by WAF, nor should they alter the behavioral DDoS rate limiting policy
Given the list of IPs to be managed, it becomes challenging for the security administrator to manage the blacklisting and whitelisting records in multiple files for each application.
With global controls, the user can view the status of all blacklisted/whitelisted IPs or countries in a single dashboard and modify the same status.
AppTrana also goes a step further; it allows you to make bulk entries of IP addresses/countries to blacklist/whitelist across all your applications instead of expecting you to make them.
It also allows you to override these global rules and modify some for specific applications.
Not just IPs but IP ranges
In AppTrana, you do not even have to enter all IP addresses individually; if you have a set of IP addresses that need to be blacklisted/whitelisted, you can enter the series of such IP addresses by simply mentioning them.
For example, 192.168.1.1/24 will block all IP addresses from 192.168.1.1, 192.168.1.2, 192.168.1.3….till 192.168.1.24, no rule will be applied on the IP 192.168.1.25 from the above selection.
Not just that, AppTrana also allows the security admin to review all the blacklisting and whitelisting actions and help debug any security loopholes.
4. Auto Scalability
Most DDoS attacks create a large traffic volume to exhaust the resource capacity. Sometimes when the traffic and network size expand, the prevention goes out of control. Thus, failing the mitigation process.
The DDoS protection solution leverages highly scalable infrastructure. So that they can ramp up in line with the traffic that must be handled.
AppTrana, for example, is built to absorb the largest DDoS attacks. It leverages AWS infrastructure to block large attack traffic. While autoscaling is enabled, we assessed DDoS attacks of up to 2.3 TBps over 10,000 concurrent IPs.
5. Monitoring and Alerting
DDoS mitigation solution should be able to constantly monitor for potential attacks that target your resources. Then, it should be able to send out real-time alerts to the application owners and/or managed services team to monitor the attacks and take any corrective action if needed.
The alert should highlight the domain being attacked, the attack’s protocol, session details, user agents, geography, IP, and any other information that can help differentiate valid from invalid requests. This feature limits the time it takes to detect and block a DDoS attack.
6. Content Delivery Network
The DDoS protection service can take the load off your origin server by enabling CDN. When a request is received, the CDN server will respond with the cached version of the requested page.
In the case of a DDoS attack, the CDN can be used to absorb and distribute the attack traffic by redirecting it to multiple servers. This can help to prevent the attack traffic from overwhelming the origin server and causing the website to become unavailable.
The DDoS solution protects and accelerates the site’s performance while protecting the origin server.
7. BOT Protection
Hackers often create bot armies to launch DDoS attacks. The multi-layered architecture of advanced DDoS protection is equipped with bot protection policies.
Today bots are using crafty techniques to masquerade as Googlebot. Hackers know Googlebot is a bot that every business is going to whitelist.
The BOT Pretender Policies, for instance, help detect and block malicious bots which pretend to be helpful bots.
8. Broader Visibility
DDoS protection is not just for blocking attacks. The solution must provide users with important insights and analytics about the attacks. You can view the attack statistics categorized by IP and URLs.
The mitigation reports include traffic statistics, top 5 IPs, top 5 countries, and top 5 URI. The in-depth visibility simplifies forensics and ensures accurate DDoS mitigation.
How to Choose the Right DDoS Mitigation Services?
The number of DDoS mitigation service providers may be many, but only some providers offer all the necessary features for an efficient service. To choose the right DDoS protection solution, it is vital to consider the following factors:
1. Narrow Down your Risk Profile
The first step in choosing the right denial-of-service solution is identifying your organization’s specific needs.
- How much bandwidth do you need?
- What is the cost of downtime for your organization?
- What kind of attacks are you most worried about?
- Do you want a preventative or reactive solution?
If you have already been a victim of such an attack, consider the factors that caused that past attack. Based on this analysis, gauge the unique needs of your website/ web application. Accordingly, research the different options and choose the best-fit DDoS mitigation solutions.
2. Always on DDoS Protection
Suppose an attack occurs when the protection isn’t activated. Your business may not have enough time to turn the protection on before the attack causes significant damage.
Always-on protection is a constantly active service that monitors attacks. If an attack is detected, the SaaS solution will automatically respond and try to mitigate the damage.
Most DDoS attacks are sub-saturating and short attacks. These attacks will likely last less than 5 minutes and under a network range of 1 GB/s. These minimalistic attacks are prone to evading scrutiny and detection by legacy DDoS mitigation tools.
The configuration of such tools ignores shorter attack activity. Thereby creating weaker detection thresholds.
Always on mitigation quality minimizes the latency penalties. It scans the traffic constantly for potential attacks. As it is not dependent on human awareness, its approach reduces the mitigation time.
Every business has unique needs and risk/ threat profiles. DDoS mitigation solutions should enable you to customize rules based on your workflow and specific requirements.
For instance, your business may not be focusing on Asian markets. So, your website could blacklist user requests in those countries, thereby limiting the attack surface.
Flexibility is also valuable in preventing DDoS attacks. Your solution must be intelligent and flexible enough to start any of the following actions:
- Quickly change rules/ policies based on real-time insights and traffic pattern analysis
- Throw in a CAPTCHA challenge to the user to ensure they are not bots
- Trigger rate-based rules if a user exceeds the pre-set threshold of requests from a single user
5. Mitigation Capabilities
When choosing a DDoS protection provider, consider their mitigation capabilities. This means looking at factors like
- How quickly can they identify and block an attack?
- How many attacks can they handle simultaneously?
- What kind of safeguards do they have to prevent attacks from taking down the entire system?
- How will they help my team in reducing false positives?
There are a few other things to consider when looking for a DDoS solution:
- Does the provider have worldwide coverage?
- Do they have enough scrubbing capacity to handle several attacks simultaneously?
- How quickly can they mitigate an attack?
- What kind of reporting and analytics do they provide?
6. Attack Coverage
Many DDoS mitigation solutions only offer protection against layer 3 and 4 attacks. They require you to subscribe to expensive add-on services to obtain application layer protection.
Neglecting layer 7 DDoS protection exposes you to low-and-slow DDoS and HTTP floods attacks. Modern DDoS protection should detect and protect against all types of DDoS attacks.
Don’t pay for bad traffic. The traffic volume you purchase in a DDoS protection service should only be billed on legitimate traffic.
Suppose you pay for all traffic reaching your site, legitimate or attack traffic. When you are DDoS-ed, your infrastructure costs will go up severely. Especially in the case of SMBs, this could greatly impact working capital.
In such a case, you will be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per attack. To protect from such surcharges, it is vital to have an unmetered DDoS protection model.
8. SSL Mitigation
Many organizations do not need such attacks to be mitigated. Hence providers may still be acceptable if they do not offer SSL mitigation. However, any organization reliant on SSL-based transactions and traffic will need to know if this capability is supported by a service provider and how.
The DDoS protection solutions need to support in-line decryption and the re-encryption of traffic. It ensures that your network keeps the data with intact security policies.
If the mitigation is delegated to a different network, the provider’s decryption and re-encryption process should meet your organization’s goals in terms of service and security.
9. Managed Services for DDoS Protection
Security experts available 24×7 is beneficial. So that the security crew can immediately get involved in any attack on your network. If any alert on the attack is received, they will take instant remedial action.
The time saved with immediate assistance can prevent a complete collapse of your network and applications, rendering the attack a minor hiccup.
This guide is based on Indusface’s practical experience in proven DDoS mitigation solutions for different attack scenarios.
If your DDoS protection solution does not have the above-discussed capabilities, it will be ineffective against the latest DDoS attacks. And your IT infrastructure will be left open to highly damaging attacks!
Fully Managed DDoS Mitigation with AppTrana
AppTrana’s managed DDoS Protectionoffers a comprehensive behavioral-based solution. It uses a combination of techniques to detect and mitigate DDoS attacks in real-time, and it provides real-time monitoring and reporting.
With flexible deployment options, it can protect networks and websites of all sizes. The combination of technology and human intelligence is one of the key features that sets AppTrana apart as a DDoS protection solution.
AppTrana uses advanced traffic analysis algorithms to detect and identify the source of DDoS attack traffic. It also employs a team of security experts that monitor the network and analyze the data in real-time, providing a multi-layered defense.
It provides a comprehensive defense against DDoS attacks and adapts to new and evolving threats, ensuring that the network is always protected.