With all the talk in the news lately about DDOS and other various attacks on companies and websites most website owners have likely given thought to what if this happened to me. What would I do? Is there anything I can do ahead of time? So we went to an expert to find out the answer to those questions.
Timothy Taylor is the owner of DeatosLabs.com and has over 10 year of experience with computer security. So we picked his brain a bit about what companies can do to protect themselves and mitigate the damage if an attack does occur. Here is what he had to say.
Question: What exactly is a DDOS attack and what kind of damage can it cause to a website?
Answer: There are two kinds of DDOS attacks. One is meant to kill CPU (computer power) and the other is meant to kill bandwidth. A DDOS attack is more than one computer that is set up to attack your site by consuming one of these resources of the end user to take your site offline.
The damage to the victim of this attack can range greatly depending on your website and how much your site would have made in the time it was down. The other cost can be in bandwidth consumption if you don’t have unlimited bandwidth. Costs could be as high as $20 per second with some hosting contracts. The other issue is that many DDOS attacks will take other sites down on the network as well as the target. So everyone loses.
Question: Is there anyway a company can plan ahead and stop a DDOS from happening technology wise? And if so what?
Answer: There is no guaranteed 100% way to know that your site will stay live during a DDOS bandwidth attack because once your out of bandwidth it’s just gone there is no way to get more the pipes are only so big.
Question: That answer is not very comforting to many business owners…so are there any steps you can suggest that they could take?
Answer: Reality is standard hosting gives you one pipe to your website even if you own your own dedicated server you only have one pipe going to your server. To thwart DDOS attacks you need to have your site hosted across multiple upstream providers. That way if one pipe is saturated you have the ability to take that pipe off your host and traffic going to your site will no longer use this pipe hence no longer being attacked.
Question: So how does the regular website owner or business owner go about setting up a system that does this?
Answer: You will need to have a hosting provider that is set up with this kind of distributed content structure already. Currently DeatosLabs.com does offer this type of hosting.
Question: What does hosting like that cost? Is it comparable to what people are currently paying?
Answer: For most websites the cost is really not that much different maybe a few bucks a month. This hosting is sold a little differently however than regular hosting. It is sold per location. Each location is another pipe your website is attached to.
So a standard package for a small website could run as low as $10/month with 2 locations mirroring it. We can do packages for big businesses or businesses that are highly susceptible to an attack mirroring up to 432 locations.
Question: Are there any other benefits to this type of hosting for a website owner beyond being able to withstand a DDOS attack?
Answer: Yes basically a set up like this creates your own content distribution network. Which means that end users would get their content from the closest server to them which could dramatically increase page time loads and general latency issues from what a user sees on a standard web host.
Question: If someone is interested in finding out about how to set up hosting like this through your company what should they do?
Answer: Go to the website DeatosLabs.com and use the contact form to contact us. If you tell us how many domains you have and database in that contact we will send you back a customized quote and ordering information. If anyone has general questions about the service they can use this form as well.
Question: Aside from trying to mitigate attacks what other things security wise should website owners be aware of?
Answer: The most important thing I can tell any website owner is to know everything about any script or other objects you use on your website. These are often the reason someone has the ability to hack into your site because you have a piece of code on your site that gives them a backdoor. Shopping carts are highly susceptible to this because people want to be able to get a hold of credit card information.
For the do it yourselfer sites like securityfocus.com can help you make sure the product you are going to use is really safe. If you aren’t that technically savvy than you should hire a security company to do a review of what you are using and make sure it’s all safe for your users.
So that about covers it. I guess the short answer to our original question is you can’t stop someone from attacking you but if you are using the right kind of host and plan ahead you will be able to deal with it if happens.
If you are interested in learning more about distributed hosting or checking the security on your site you can reach Timothy at DeatosLabs.com