October 31, 2016
by Leo Papadopoulos

Keeping the Cloud9 Platform Safe From DDoS Attacks

The massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that brought down a large portion of the internet on October 21 prompted a renewed focus on cyber security for both companies and customers. Cloud9 anticipates these types of attacks and protects our customers by reducing our attack surface and through choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our cloud services provider.

The Attack

The recent DDoS attack targeted the servers of Dyn, a company that supports a great deal of DNS infrastructure, and brought down sites such as Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, CNN, and more.

A DDoS attacks are executed by a botnet, which bombards a server with more traffic, connections, or requests than it can handle until it collapses under the strain. The particular botnet that was responsible for the 10/21 attack was made up of Internet of Things (IOT) devices infected with malware. These devices proved easy to hack due to the weak default passwords that are rarely changed by owners.

Protecting Cloud9 Customers

First, and foremost, we minimize the opportunities an attacker has to target our applications. We refer to this as reducing our attack surface. For DDoS attacks, this means restricting the type of traffic that can reach our applications.

In addition, AWS services and technologies are DDoS resilient by design and are supported by mitigation systems that automatically detect and filter excess traffic. To help you optimize for availability, AWS also provides best practices that enable us to build a DDoS-resilient architecture.

  • Services like elastic load balancing and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud allow firms to build DDoS resiliency and scale to handle unexpected volumes of traffic within a given region.
  • To prevent an infrastructure-layer attack, Amazon offers options to easily scale our instance size, choose server regions, and implement elastic load balancing to handle signs of excess traffic
  • To prevent an application-layer attack, we can detect and filter malicious web requests with Amazon CloudFront and AWS WAF and operate at scale, distributing traffic to the many Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud environments that are configured to auto-scale for the purpose of serving traffic surges.
  • Cloud9 has also implemented extensive monitoring and alarm systems to instantly notify us in the event of a traffic spike.

Read more about how advances in cloud technology can help protect firms against hacks and data breaches.