Light Reading

Cloud Providers: Beware DDoS Domino Effect

Tom Bienkowski

In this day and age, almost every organization is using the Internet as a platform for business as they realize the benefit of outsourcing online operations such as websites, storage, e-commerce, email, and domain name system (DNS). It makes sense because it allows them to focus more on the core business. It also brings about lower costs and requires fewer internal resources. As such, cloud and hosting providers are experiencing significant growth as they meet this market demand. But with this increase in growth comes a proportional increase in risk.

With the proliferation of cyber threat and "hacktivist" movements, any organization can be the target of a cyber attack, specifically distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. These days, they are occurring daily because of botnet-for-hire services that charge as little as $2 an hour. However, hosting providers incur a higher risk of being the targets of DDoS attacks than other businesses operating online. Why? They aggregate the risk of all their customers.

The Wikipedia definition of the "domino effect" is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. The term is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes.

A DDoS attack on one hosting customer can potentially take down the entire operation because they all share the same network infrastructure. In the same way cloud hosting providers pool resources such as bandwidth and storage for their customers, they also pool the aggregated risk of all their customers.

Due to the multi-tenancy nature of cloud-based data centers, a volumetric DDoS attack against one tenant can lead to a domino effect of service outages. Imagine that an attack is launched against one tenant. If the massive amount of malicious traffic bombarding this one tenant can cause the cloud data center to go down or clog up the shared resources, the entire data center can be taken offline or severely slowed. If a company's data center is down because of a DDoS attack, its customers will lose revenue, and the hosting provider will lose revenue and credibility which impacts the viability of the business. This type of outage can be devastating to the reputation and finances of all involved. To make matters worse, the aftershock continues long after the attack has been mitigated.

Because of this looming threat, cloud hosting providers need to proactively defend themselves to ensure service remains available to all of their customers in the event of an attack.

How to avoid becoming the bullseye
The good news is that the risks associated with DDoS attacks can be mitigated. If you don't want to be a victim of the DDoS domino effect, consider four simple strategies that any hosting provider can implement to protect service availability for their customers and themselves:

  • Subscribe to "clean pipes" service from all upstream service providers. Clean pipes will ensure that large-scale DDoS attacks are detected and mitigated in the cloud before they have an impact on the cloud data center, and before customers suffer an outage.
  • Implement an on-premise DDoS mitigation solution. It will enable hosting providers to detect and eliminate stealthy, application-layer DDoS attacks. These attacks target specific applications such as log-in forms and downloads. Due to their narrow focus, they do not require a large amount of traffic, making them very difficult to detect.
  • Monitor traffic inside and outside the cloud data center. Monitoring traffic patterns and protocols is essential to detecting network misuse. Certain systems should be communicating with each other while others should not. When those that should not communicate with each other are communicating, it could mean trouble.
  • Offer additional anti-DDoS service to customers. Operators of cloud data centers can generate additional revenue by offering highly valued DDoS mitigation services to customers. For example, customers who subscribe to the service will have malicious traffic directed against them mitigated. Customers who do not subscribe to the service will simply have their traffic blackholed. This type of service can be a true differentiator in the highly competitive hosting space. The difference between winning and losing business is more and more frequently coming down to valued-added services like managed backup, email and DDoS mitigation.

By taking these precautions, hosting providers can increase their reliability and service availability while generating more revenue by offering valued DDoS protection services to their customers.

— Tom Bienkowski, Director of Product Marketing, Arbor Networks.

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/7/2014 | 4:45:13 PM
With so many different tenants on a cloud provider's plate, it would seem problematic to be able to stop an all-out DDoS. But technology is improving, and it is clear that providers have no choice but to have procedures in place to prevent the so-called domino effect.

Here's hoping that they work, because major cloud outages are always widely reported and gives the technology a bad rap, fair or unfair. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Column
As OTT video traffic soars, CSPs can use new probing tools to measure and improve their data customers' quality of experience more effectively.
The edge router's days are numbered, argues Scott Sumner.
Don't panic – the platform isn't burning but is evolving quickly through open source, writes OPNFV director Heather Kirksey.
Cisco has once again set the bar and challenged the New IP networking sector by opening its doors and welcoming independent testing, something more vendors should be doing.
The communications industry is being turned on its head and not everyone will survive.
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (9) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (1) comment

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.