How Automation Can Be Used To Mitigate DDoS Attacks?
DDoS attacks have been rising exponentially over the years, in terms of volumes, lethality, severity, and sophistication. DDoS attacks are not ‘just’ a security issue but a reputational and business continuity issue. Given the changing nature of such attacks and the proliferation of DDoS-for-hire services powered by an explosion of unsecured IoT devices, traditional DDoS attack prevention methods have been found wanting.
Automation, if harnessed effectively, is enabling businesses to deal with the modern forms of DDoS. In this article, we will discuss how.
Misconceptions About DDoS Attacks: Cleared
Not all DDoS Attacks are Volumetric
A majority of attacks are under 1 Gbps in magnitude, making it difficult to detect and easier for the attackers to slip through security. There has also been a rise in multi-vector attacks, which are much more sophisticated and lethal.
Why are Traditional DDoS Attack Prevention Methods Not Enough?
Longer Time Taken to Detect and Mitigate Attacks:
Working on a predetermined set of rules, the “analysis – detection – switching – traffic scrubbing – mitigation” scheme is used by traditional DDoS prevention services to block illegitimate requests and prevent attacks. When an anomaly is detected, the traffic is redirected to the on-premise or cloud-based scrubbing center.
Here, the traffic is parsed by a network engineer/ security professional/ a tool based on pre-defined rules/ settings. Even the best-in-class services can take 10-30 minutes to detect and mitigate DDoS attacks. The compromised application/ resource is left unprotected and unavailable during this time since modern attacks take only a few minutes to cause massive damage.
Tools Not Equipped to Handle Modern Attacks:
Traditional DDoS Attack Prevention is typically comprised of Firewalls and hardware-based Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) which are not equipped to handle the multi-vector and sneaky DDoS attacks of today.
The traditional firewalls are overloaded easily by the exponential flood of requests within a short span of time, each of which needs to be checked by the firewall and depleting its resources.
IDS devices, which monitor traffic and block malicious requests, are not easily configurable without the help of security experts. They are known to be effective against Layer 7 attacks and not the volumetric ones.
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The Rising Bot Problem:
40% of web traffic is made up of bots and 60% of the bots are known to be bad bots. And these numbers are only rising. So, the DDoS attacks are increasingly becoming smarter and automated in nature. Traditional attack prevention methods are not equipped to handle rising bot problems.
Difficulty in Detecting Patterns:
The attack patterns of modern DDoS are not fixed; they are no singular or obvious ‘tells’. Without the ability to intelligently detect these patterns, traditional methods are rendered useless.
How Does Automation Help Mitigate DDoS Attacks?
Given the criticality of the response time in DDoS Attack Prevention, shorter response time is ensured by automation in comparison to traditional and manual attack prevention. The response time with automation is 6 minutes on average as opposed to 35 minutes using traditional methods!
The response times are cut down by automation in the following ways:
- Based on historical data, signature, and behavior analysis, suspicious traffic is instantaneously identified by the automated DDoS solution, even those missed by human experts.
- Automated defense systems can scale to monitor and effectively mitigate attacks.
- Automated solutions can access global threat data, IP blocklists, and DDoS weapon databases in real-time and apply the same to intelligently block attacks.
- The suspicious requests can be instantly deployed to a cloud-based scrubbing center by an automated DDoS protection solution, ensuring that it does not reach the application.
- Automated solutions are capable of taking escalation actions in an adaptive fashion to minimize damage with minimal human intervention.
- Automated solutions are capable of sending alerts for further manual intervention to take action and involve the right set of people.
- Even when analyzing a large volume of requests, attack patterns are identified in real-time to block zero-day DDoS attacks by automated defense systems.
A managed solution like AppTrana that massively leverages automation is equipped with Global Threat Intelligence and capable of differentiating between good and bad bots.
Another advantage of automated solutions is that detailed reports are generated quickly after successful attack mitigation for forensic analysis and communication to stakeholders.
Given that attackers are leveraging automation, AI, and ML to orchestrate automated and smart DDoS attacks of today, automation must be effectively and efficiently leveraged by businesses to tackle such attacks with minimal reliance on human intervention. Managed DDoS Prevention Services like AppTrana leverage automation to provide always-on, instantaneous, reliable, and scalable protection against attacks while human expertise is used to customize and tune policies and stay ahead of attackers.