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What is a DDoS-Protected VPN?

Look for a VPN service that explicitly mentions DDoS protection as part of its features.

It seems like every day, our real lives get more intertwined with our digital lives. Availability disruptions in the apps and platforms we use can cause major interruptions to our daily lives. 

Among the most troubling digital threats is a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. By flooding networks and servers with malicious traffic, DDoS attacks block access for legitimate users. This can last for hours, days, or even weeks! 

DDoS attack tools are growing more sophisticated all the time, and no organization remains immune to these threats. Fortunately, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) offer excellent security protection. 

A DDoS-protected VPN is a tool that increases your cybersecurity and protects your network from potential attackers by disguising your IP address. 

A Primer on DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks operate on the brute-force principle: overwhelm a target with so many requests that genuine traffic gets blocked. 

Today’s attackers have honed numerous techniques for targeting vulnerabilities at the network, transport, and application levels. These strategies include: 

These attacks quickly consume the computational resources that are needed to process legitimate access requests, and systems grind to a halt. 

In recent years, attackers have become skilled at collecting detailed reconnaissance and identifying vulnerabilities in web servers, databases, APIs, and even applications themselves. These weak points are then targeted with carefully engineered inputs, generating even more load than raw packet-loading. 

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of a DDoS attack is its astounding scale. Attackers use massive botnets (networks of malware-infected machines around the world) to create more than 1 terabit per second of junk traffic.

Assess your specific privacy and security needs, and choose a VPN service that aligns with your requirements.

Some of the biggest DDoS attacks in Internet history

DDoS attacks are incredibly frustrating and expensive. They also have long-term impacts on business operations. 

Here are some of the most famous examples of huge DDoS attacks:

  • The September 2017 attack on Google services reached 2.54 Tbps by sending spoofed packets to overwhelm 180,000 web servers.
  • The February 2020 attack on AWS peaked at 2.3 Tbps using hijacked CLDAP web servers to flood AWS infrastructure.
  • The February 2018 attack on GitHub reached 1.3 Tbps and 126.9 million packets per second by leveraging memcached amplification to overwhelm GitHub servers.
  • The October 2016 Dyn attack used the Mirai botnet of compromised IoT devices to overwhelm Dyn servers, disrupting sites like Netflix and PayPal.
  • The 2015 GitHub attack originated in China, injecting malicious JavaScript into Baidu analytics to send excessive requests to GitHub over several days.
  • The 2013 Spamhaus attack generated 300 Gbps of traffic by compromising university networks to target the anti-spam organization.
  • The 2000 Mafiaboy attack took down sites like Yahoo! and eBay by compromising university networks to coordinate overwhelming traffic.
  • The April 2007 Estonia attack targeted government and media sites in response to a political dispute with Russia, considered an early act of cyber warfare.

The impact of DDoS attacks

For affected organizations and services, DDoS attacks inflict harm well beyond the immediate disruption. 

This often includes: 

  • Financial losses
  • Reputational damage
  • Productivity decline
  • Legal and regulatory issues

DoS or DDoS?

There are some differences between a DoS attack and a DDoS attack.

  1. Source of Attack: DoS attacks originate from a single source, usually a single computer or internet connection. DDoS attacks originate from multiple distributed sources, often a botnet.
  2. Scale: DoS attacks tend to be smaller in scale and traffic volume than DDoS attacks because they rely on a single source. DDoS attacks leverage multiple sources to overwhelm targets from multiple directions.
  3. Difficulty of Detection: DoS attacks are easier to detect and block because the attack traffic comes from one IP address or network. DDoS attacks, on the other hand, are harder to mitigate because the distributed botnet hides the true source of the traffic.
  4. Motive: DoS attacks are often used to target or gain access to a specific company or server, with a specific goal. In contrast, DDoS attacks are more often used to cause general disruption to sites and services.
A VPN service with a robust and distributed server infrastructure is better equipped to handle DDoS attacks.

Fortifying your defenses with a VPN

There is some good news in all of this! Even though DDoS attacks are getting more intense, VPN providers are also becoming more sophisticated and complex in their security functionality. 

How do VPNs protect your network from a DDoS attack? By establishing encrypted tunnels between endpoints, VPNs allow traffic to flow securely over any network. This prevents outsiders like DDoS botnets from directly monitoring your traffic. And because they can’t see your internet traffic, they can’t extract information to identify and overwhelm your system. 

VPN providers also: 

  • Assign customers with a virtual IP address from a large, shared pool – rather than exposing their true network identifiers
  • Perform bulk traffic analysis to monitor for DDoS threats
  • Implement firewall rules and mitigation filters against old and new attack strategies 
  • Have abundant bandwidth so that they can absorb sudden spikes of malicious traffic – without impacting performance
  • Provide an additional layer of cybersecurity, making networks less susceptible to malware and hacking, which often pave the way for DDoS attacks

How to choose a DDoS-protected VPN 

All VPNs offer increased security, but not all providers offer equal protection, especially from threats at such a large scale. 

We recommend prioritizing the following features when you are selecting a DDoS-resilient VPN: 

  • Massive server capacity: The more bandwidth and computing power your VPN provider has, the smoother your functionality will be, even during massive volumes of traffic
  • Strong encryption protocols: AES-256-bit encryption prevents snooping
  • Custom threat mitigations: Advanced providers will fine-tune their defenses to protect against new attack patterns
  • Kill switch: A kill switch enables the connection to be severed if the VPN drops, preventing any accidental exposure 

Protect yourself from DDoS attacks by using a DDoS-protected VPN

As DDoS attacks grow more powerful, individuals and organizations alike need to implement robust protections. VPNs are a critical line of defense against DDoS threats, thanks to their functionality of obscuring network traffic and IP addresses. 

When a VPN is part of a multi-layered security strategy, it can provide effective resilience against the disabling flood of junk data that is sent during a DDoS attack. 

As we continue to become even more dependent upon internet-based systems, VPNs will likely continue growing in strategic importance for users across every level of internet usage.

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