Marinating startup security has become a key concern for online entrepreneurs in 2022. As the startup scene recovers from a remote shift and new calls for a digitally driven future, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity now sits at the top of every business owner’s list.
In fact, cybercrime increased by 600% on the back of the pandemic alone. From a rise in phishing scams to ransomware attacks, SMEs have become prime targets for cyber-hackers. Lacking the cybersecurity solutions that protect larger organisations, just one breach could see a small business sinking.
DDoS Attacks On The Rise: How Can You Protect Your Startup
Without a cyber-safe structure and secure web host, small business servers are at more risk than ever before.
After a recent Netscout Systems report discovered that over 6 million distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks targeted small business servers in just the first half of 2022, it’s time to take action if you want your startup to stay afloat in 2023.
Are DDoS attacks on the rise?
In the first six months of 2022, DDoS attacks climbed up by 203% in comparison with 2021. Ranging from terabit attacks to mass hacktivism, the corporate sector remains the number one target for cybercriminals.
The question is, why is server hacking the newest cybercrime trend on the block? According to Radware’s 2022 H1 Global Threat Analysis Report, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a significant impact on the rise of cyber-hacking.
With an added reliance on the use of online servers, Russia’s effect on the disruption of global business has pushed more services into a completely digital realm. With more businesses going remote on the back of both the pandemic and the effects of the Russia/Ukraine war, comes a new era of opportunity for smart cyber hackers.
What is a DDoS attack?
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, targets your server or network service. In an attempt to disrupt and ruin the flow of normal site traffic, DDoS hackers work to overwhelm a severer with a number of bot-generated, infected hosts, in turn causing a mass crash of all web content.
(Image Source: AVI Networks)
Using a number of compromised CPU systems as a source of host traffic, DDoS attackers can quickly exploit a server and prevent regular users from accessing web content, otherwise known as a denial of service.
What does a DDoS attack look like for a small business?
Identifying a DDoS attack can be tricky at first, as botnet-based hacks are easily disguised as traffic pouring in from hundreds of legitimate IP addresses.
Learning to identify trends in your traffic, is a great place to start when searching for a potential threat. Here are some of the most common clues that your server might be under attack:
Seeing large numbers of site traffic flood in from just one IP address or range.
Noticing a suspicious surge of traffic from shared device types, behavioural features or the same geolocation.
An unexplained influx of endpoint requests or single-page activity.
Odd engagement times, such as surges in the middle of the night or an unusual pattern of user traffic, such as a spike every 30 minutes.
As one of the easiest targets for cyber hacking, small business owners need to know not only how to identify a breach, but how to prevent one in the first place.
Read on as we jump into cyber-proofing your startup and what it could mean for SME success.
How to protect your startup from DDoS attacks
Startups can no longer have the ‘we are too small to be attacked’ mindset when facing cybersecurity threats in 2023.
In fact, a DDoS attack is far easier to orchestrate on a small business server as they are likely to be using a shared hosting service and are often not backed up.
With the average cyber attack now costing a small business over £100,000, startups can not afford to be a victim. Not only could a breach finish off a company before it even started, but a whopping 69% of consumers also refuse to even interact with a site that has suffered a cyber-hack.
Here are the key steps your startup should be taking when striving to improve cybersecurity.
Strengthen your server
When it comes to protecting your startup from a DDoS attack, your server is the first place to start.
These types of cyber breaches aim to overwhelm a server with an influx of traffic. By prioritising your server’s ability to withstand high numbers of engagements, you’ll remain resilient in the event of a DDoS attack.
The key here is to strengthen your server’s bandwidth and scalability. In order to do this, it’s time to look towards the Cloud.
With over 60% of corporate data currently stored in the Cloud, investing in a decentralised form of data backup can quickly strengthen your server.
Defined by Cloudflare, “The Cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the Internet, and the software and databases that run on those servers. Cloud servers are located in data centres all over the world. By using cloud computing, users and companies do not have to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own machines.”
Therefore, when analysing your hosting services, make sure you’re investing your money in a cloud-based hosting provider. Alongside the ability to supply your company site with a private and secure server, using a cloud-infused hosting platform provides a startup site with unlimited scalability and a strong bandwidth, perfect for tackling high influxes of traffic.
Start monitoring your traffic
One way to look out for DDoS attacks, in particular, is to keep an eye on your traffic. As a startup, you should constantly be monitoring your traffic sources, in order to identify user trends and behaviours, especially when creating targeted content for them.
Adding an extra step to this process is vital if you want to include a cybersecurity check in your startup strategy.
The key here is to monitor your traffic analytics on a daily basis and be continually conducting site security audits to lookout for anomalous behaviour, influxes of engagement at odd hours and a spike in malicious requests.
Investing in AI-powered solutions, such as analytic traffic trackers and blockers, could take your traffic monitoring one step further. Using intelligent solutions, a lot of AI-driven channels will now highlight potential traffic breaches and give you the option to block or challenge a traffic source if you think it could be a cause for concern.
Have a recovery response
While it’s important to be on top of your cyberattack prevention strategy, it’s also essential to have a recovery plan too.
Despite a company’s best efforts, cyber security breaches still occur on a daily basis. In fact, stats from IT Governance revealed that there were over 5.1 billion server-based breaches in 2021 alone.
Prioritising the creation of a strong recovery strategy could provide a victim of data breaching a light at the end of the tunnel. In order to minimize losses, it’s time to start building a hack-proof incident response plan.
Your recovery plan should be simple, yet, effective, and able to be carried out by any member of your company’s staff.
Detailing ways to keep operations up and running in the event of a business-wide attack should be a startup’s first port of call. Maintaining the flow of tasks both on and off the web will ensure that your company is still productive, even when it is down. Prioritising continued value production, keeps conversions flowing, which will help fight a financial loss.
Secondly, your recovery strategy should contain a well-defined escalation plan. The employee who is consulting your incident response plan should know exactly who to escalate the issue to, especially if you’re trying to contain the breach within an internal network.
Every member of your team should be trained in how to prevent a cyber-security attack and, more importantly, how to deal with one if it was to occur.
Gone are the days of being too small to be on a cyber hacker’s radar. Every online business is now at risk. Taking time to strengthen your server and monitor your traffic sources may not slow down the influx of cybercrime, but it’ll quickly minimise the risks, especially as a growing business.
Author Details: Rebecca Barnatt-Smith
Rebecca is a freelance journalist, specialising in Technology, Web Design and Crypto.
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