A distributed denial of service attack, also known as a DDoS attack, is something that you need to be prepared for, especially in today’s ever-evolving and complex cyber environment.

Try as we might, there is no escaping the fact that cyber-attacks, including cloud breaches, are becoming more and more frequent. There are roughly 50 million attacks every year which translates to approximately one to two attacks every second of every day. It’s therefore vital that your business is prepared when it comes to cyber security, especially against possible DDoS attacks. As our data management infographic shows, businesses of any size can be affected by these sophisticated cyber breaches, so no company is above making the necessary preparations.

To help you safeguard your business and confidential customer data, here are four effective ways to help you protect your business against a potential DDoS attack.

1. Have a data management plan in place

One of the best ways to combat any cyber-attack is to have the right data management plan in place. More and more UK businesses are doing this, with 74% of those in a recent 2017 gov.uk survey citing cyber security as a high or very high priority moving forward. It’s always wise to prepare for any eventuality and no matter how small your business, you need to have a robust plan in place. This will ensure you can deal with the threat of attack quickly and can avoid compromising your data integrity.

A good data management plan should clearly explain how your data will be handled, shared and archived and explain all security and access privileges plainly. Getting the right plan for your business’ needs will ensure you’re taking the best possible precautions to protect your data.

2. Enlist the right services

When defending your business against a DDoS attack the two main options you have are to either manage this in-house or use external services to help mitigate the impact.

Managing your DDoS prevention in-house is in most cases the simplest method, but it can also be the least effective depending on your businesses’ internal structure Thiscould be as simple as a developer writing a Python script to filter out bad traffic. However, the problem with managing everything in-house is that today’s cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attacks and the example above is unlikely to shield you against the more complex multi-vector or volumetric DDoS attacks. However, with advanced in-house approaches, specialist equipment on-site and skilled teams to operate it; managing in-house can be a compelling option.

The second option is to look to external experts. The two main paths you could explore include your internet service provider (ISP) or a cloud mitigation provider. ISPs can offer DDoS mitigation, however, as this is not their core business speciality, the quality of these services can vary greatly. The safer option is to go with a cloud mitigation provider. These providers have invested in the infrastructure to handle the massive data loads and traffic influxes that DDoS attacks burden your servers with. As Nicole Perlroth observes in The New York Times, the smartest corporations are “beginning to take a more layered approach to data protection” because “firewalls and antivirus software alone cannot keep hackers out”.

3. Make real-time adjustments

Attackers make real-time changes to the way they target their attacks, by waiting to see how a business responds and altering their approach accordingly. According to Verisign Q4 2017 DDoS Trends Report 82% utilized at least two different attack types. This shows just how sophisticated and adaptable hackers are becoming. And 46% of attacks employed 5 or more attack types.

To combat this, your business must also be able to make real-time adjustments to DDoS prevention to help you fight the different types of attack and protect your data.

4. Recognise the signs

Recognising the signs of a potential DDoS attack could be crucial to ensuring your business and its data is protected. It can be hard to distinguish normal spikes in web traffic or a slowdown in network performance, so having the right technology and people in place will help you tell the difference.

A DDoS attack is a daunting prospect, especially, as what worked in more contained environments – and in a simpler threat landscape – doesn’t provide the threat awareness, visibility or control needed to cover the size of the new attack surface and the scale of today’s threats. No one wants to face a DDoS attack, but with the right procedures and infrastructure in place, you can identify an attack early on and mitigate the impact it can have on your company.

Follow our four ways to protect against possible DDoS attacks and you’ll be on your way to safeguarding your business, your reputation and protecting confidential customer data effectively.