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Can you prepare for DDoS attacks?

08/22/2012 | Internet hosting |

Can you prepare for DDoS attacks?

One of the major worries for any company looking for dedicated servers in order to host a website at the moment is likely to be the threat posed by hackers, as cybercrime is a problem that is growing ever-more frequent. But while there are many steps you can take to protect data centers from malware and breaches designed to steal data, one of the most significant threats many websites may face is distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

These occur when a hacker floods a website with thousands of hits, usually from computers controlled by botnets. This overloads the servers - making it extremely difficult for legitimate traffic to access the site - and has the effect of essentially taking a website offline. This could be extremely problematic for firms that rely on the internet to do business and may leave them facing large amounts of lost revenue. However, it is an issue many websites might have to deal with, as DDoS attacks have become the weapon of choice for many hackers, particularly so-called 'hacktivists' looking to make a political point.

The frequency of these incidents is growing, with many high-profile attacks carried out by the loose collective known as Anonymous. This week, websites belonging to the UK government have been hit by DDoS attacks, with the hackers protesting over the ongoing attempt to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Sweden. But while governments are frequently hit by DDoS outages, in the past year, other targets for DDoS hackers have included businesses that were in favour of controversial US legislation related to online privacy.

But what can you do to prevent your dedicated web hosting servers being overwhelmed by DDoS attacks? One of the biggest problems with defending these attacks is that they are difficult to prevent, as they take advantage of the same connections used by your legitimate traffic and it is impossible to isolate and block malicious connections.

However, there are steps you can take to minimise the impact. Dark Reading suggested using server virtualisation can help provide the resources needed to recover from a DDoS attack, while the publication added: "Other capabilities that can be counted on to prevent or mitigate a DDoS attack include load-balancing clusters and hot-swappable hardware."

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