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  1. Prevention vs. Intervention: How All Businesses Can Benefit from a DDoS Mitigation Service

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    It doesn’t matter if you’re a large multinational corporation or a small retail outlet located in a Pittsburgh strip mall – you are not immune from a DDoS attack. Although attacks on high profile organizations like the UN or IMF get a lot of attention, small to medium size businesses (SMBs) are also increasingly being targeted. Unfortunately, there is a continued trend for SMBs to avoid investing in security solutions, even if they have already experienced a DDoS attack. However, the risks are real: a successful DDoS attack can paralyze your business, costing you time, money and customers. In this blog, we examine why you should invest in an anti-DDoS mitigation solution before damage occurs.

    DDoS Attacks Explained

    A DDoS attack describes what occurs when large volumes of traffic get directed at an IP address, disrupting service and making network resources unavailable to their intended users. Volumetric DDoS attacks are the most common. Their goal is simply to overwhelm a circuit with bogus traffic. On the other hand, modern businesses can also face more stealthy application and session-oriented attacks that target finite system resources. Either way, DDoS attacks are characterized by the following attributes, according to the Department of Homeland Security:

    • Extremely slow network performance
    • Difficulty opening files
    • Website unavailability
    • Application unavailability

    Although telecommunications carriers, data hosting providers, ecommerce enterprises and financial institutions are the most popular targets for attacks nationwide, we have seen a unique trend throughout Western Pennsylvania. In fact, the education vertical (K-12) is seeing a rise in attempted DDoS attacks. As school districts look to take advantage of faster internet connections and make greater use of IoT-compatible devices, the potential for encountering DDoS attacks will only increase.

    Moreover, such attacks are not always a one-time occurrence. They can occur in waves, sometimes over the course of a week. Here’s the bottom line: just because a DDoS attack has not yet happened to your business, doesn’t mean it never will. Strong firewalls and other security protocols can only go so far to protect your operations.

    If you’re serious about avoiding DDoS attacks, the best solution is to subscribe to an anti-DDoS protection service implemented and managed by a trusted partner upstream of your network and mission-critical traffic.

    Why You Should Invest in DQE’s Anti-DDoS Service

    At DQE Communications, we offer a DDoS Mitigation Service to all customers that get their internet from us. It offers your business the following benefits:

    • Improved Network Availability
    • Local, Established Partner
    • Quick Response Times
    • Cutting Edge Technology
    • Customer Remains Hands-off

    Here’s how it works. Basically, we run a clean pipe solution that operates within your traffic’s normal path. That means we use our visibility into traffic flows to block and remove attack traffic before it hits your network’s narrow pipe. Since all incoming traffic passes through our infrastructure, upstream of your network, there is nothing you need to do for this clean pipe system to work. This makes it a lot simpler than cloud-based anti-DDoS scrubbing services, which require customers to allow traffic redirects off normal traffic paths and set up complex tunnels to pull cleaned traffic back into their networks. The simplicity of our DDoS mitigation service and the responsiveness of our network operations center (NOC) satisfy the pain points of our customers who need real time protection and peace of mind to concentrate on normal business operations.

    The truth is that an anti-DDoS mitigation solution like ours is a necessary component of your overall business continuity strategy. It should be used in conjunction with other cybersecurity tools for maximum protection. Improving your cybersecurity is really a holistic process and a DDoS mitigation service like ours will provide significant added value to your business.

    So, plan to succeed – contact us to learn more about setting yourself up with our DDoS Mitigation Service!

  2. IoT and its impact on bandwidth

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    Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the way that more and more physical devices are collecting and exchanging data over the internet. When this data is aggregated and analyzed, IoT represents a tremendous opportunity for improvements in accuracy and efficiency. Currently, IoT is doing a better job collecting data than using it — but its potential is limitless. IoT will have an increasing impact on bandwidth needs it grows.

    IoT includes an incredible array of devices already

    Consumer uses include connected cars, entertainment applications such as gaming, smart TVs and media players, wearable technologies such as FitBits, and a growing assortment of smart home devices. Commercial IoT includes devices used in corporate settings to improve marketing and study consumer habits, control inventory, healthcare and more, while industrial IoT covers manufacturing and utility use. IoT can even assist with the management of critical infrastructure such as bridges, railway tracks, and wind farms by monitoring usage and structural factors.

    IoT is growing

    Experts predict that anywhere from 25 to 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. In 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that a family of four had an average of 10 connected devices, which will increase to 50 by 2022 – and that’s consumer usage alone, without considering the exponential growth of IoT in commercial and industrial settings.

    Current challenges with IoT

    Several challenges exist in the evolution of IoT that threaten to limit its potential, such as security, compatibility, and standards – as well as privacy issues related to how gathered data is used.

    One much-publicized issue with IoT is that many devices are easy for hackers to co-opt into distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that disable key online services. In a DDoS attack, “botnets” send high volumes of traffic to a specific network. The resulting overload can shut down the network, blocking people from accessing email, websites, online banking and so on. It is crucial that developers of IoT consider and address security issues to help prevent DDoS attacks before consumers lose trust in IoT. It is also important that companies protect their businesses from these DDoS attacks and add a DDoS Mitigation service to their arsenal.

    Implications of IoT for bandwidth

    Many IoT devices operate wirelessly, while others are connected. Most IoT devices use very little bandwidth, but the sheer volume of devices going online means more bandwidth will be needed. As IoT grows, it will be necessary to make sure your network can accommodate these changes.

    The amount of data that IoT devices collect and transmit will increase as the technology continues to develop, which will in turn contribute to the need for increased bandwidth. (For example, when smartphones became capable of transmitting images and streaming video, the need for bandwidth jumped significantly.)

    Consumers expect that bandwidth will always be available at the fastest speeds possible, even as IoT increases demand. Companies like DQE that focus on bandwidth and scalable solutions will be critical as need explodes. Reliability is similarly important, and DQE’s self-healing fiber-optic network offers superior redundancy to automatically detect and redirect in the event of a fiber cut or other interruption.

    Count on DQE to continue to provide scalable, reliable bandwidth solutions for your business as your bandwidth needs grow.

  3. DDoS Attacks: A threat that should not be ignored

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    A young student sits in class nervous about an upcoming online exam that will take place third period. He is certainly unprepared, and knows that another unsatisfactory grade could result in summer school. Desperate, he runs through his options: he can take a deep breath and push through the exam, he can fake a sickness and go the nurse’s office, or he can find a way to cause an internet outage that lasts long enough to avoid his test. Although many prior generations might have chosen one of the first options, the current generation is a little more technologically sophisticated. The student opens his school issued iPad and purchases a cheap DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack from a suspicious website. Within seconds, web traffic is sent to the school’s 1 Gbps internet circuit—causing all online resources to become unavailable, allowing the student to avoid his test.

    This is just one example of how a DDoS attack can be disruptive and compromise non-profit or business operations. Other motivations behind these easily created or launched attacks could include a personal vendetta by a disgruntled worker or ex-employee, a case of extortion wherein an attacker requests payment via bitcoin to stop the attack, or even just an act of “Hactivism” where a hacker takes down a website for sport or in support of a cause. Less commonly, DDoS attacks could be a result of a business rivalry, and in rare circumstances DDoS attacks could be state-sponsored or a result of cyber terrorism. Whatever the motivation may be, DDoS attacks are disruptive and create large risks to businesses.

    In the case of the above school, an internet outage could not only disrupt the student and his classmates’ exam, but also the activity of the entire building. All faculty and administrators could suffer from unproductivity, and other planned class activities could be disrupted as well. In businesses where these attacks occur, the organization could literally lose money either from internal unproductivity or external denial of service to customers—especially in relation to ecommerce. According to Arbor Networks’ Worldwide Infrastructure Scrutiny Report, nearly 60% of organizations surveyed estimated their downtime costs to be about $500 per minute. The risk of these costs is certainly nothing to ignore.

    In addition to the cost of downtime, sometimes attackers will use DDoS attacks to tie up the organization’s technology professionals, while they commit data theft. This can be an even larger threat for some businesses—such as banks or hospitals that house very sensitive information. Along with this theft could come negative news coverage and a tarnished security reputation, or even regulatory scrutiny if the data theft is very serious. Thus, all of these risks are just a few reasons why DDoS attacks are such a threat to business operations, and unfortunately many businesses are unprepared when an attack strikes.

    Unfortunately, DDoS attacks are on the rise and cannot be easily prevented. However, they can be mitigated. DDoS mitigation is when malicious traffic is dropped by an internet service provider that regularly monitors a circuit’s web traffic, giving you the peace of mind that your business will not be helpless in the face of an attack. As these attacks become more prevalent and serious, many companies are choosing to use DDoS Mitigation to protect their business from these serious cyber threats.

  4. Is Your Business Prepared for a DDoS Attack?

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    On October 21, the east coast of the United States woke up to find a significant portion of the Internet wasn’t working. Twitter, Etsy, Tumblr, Reddit, PayPal, SoundCloud, Spotify, Amazon, and even the New York Times were among the sites users were having trouble reaching. The culprit was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a New Hampshire-based Internet infrastructure company. The incident was an unusually large attack, and fortunately it was resolved by the end of the day. However, it illustrates why DDoS is one of the biggest threats to Internet security today.