If You Learn of DDoS Attacks from Customers, You’ve Already Failed

If your customers notice something’s wrong before your own security specialists do, you’ve failed on multiple levels.

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When Benjamin Franklin said, “Time is money,” he gave the world an aphorism that would be quoted frequently by businesspeople for more than 200 years. For all his wit and insight, of course, Franklin could never have foreseen the many scenarios for which his pithy observation would come to apply. It turns out that among the most relevant applications of the quote in today’s digitally driven world is in the realm of cybersecurity.

Why? Because for organizations that suffer a cyberattack, a slow response can prove very costly. In an early 2017 survey of more than 1,000 IT and business decision makers, nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they could lose $100,000 per hour or more if a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack were to disrupt their peak business periods.

On the bright side, 8 in 10 of the organizations responding to the Neustar-sponsored survey said they’ve learned about new DDoS attacks from their internal security and IT teams – at least sometimes. Less encouraging is the fact that 40% also said they have, at times, received their first notification of attacks from their customers.

If your customers notice something’s wrong before your own security specialists do, you’ve failed on multiple levels. The ideal DDoS defense is to recognize an emerging threat and neutralize it before it even gains a foothold – and certainly before your customers experience any negative impacts. If customers start complaining about an inability to access your websites or other services, you’ve already started to lose money before you’re even aware of the problem.

Beyond causing staggering monetary losses for many corporations, successful DDoS attacks can alienate customers and shake their confidence in the victim’s ability to secure its own systems. By extension, customer then worry about the security of their own interactions with the company, and about the safety of any customer data the company may hold. The resulting customer churn and reduced loyalty can result in additional financial consequences.

In this regard, another Franklin quote sadly holds true: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

Fortunately, there are many security tools and services available to organizations that decide to be proactive in their DDoS defenses. As is often the case when it comes to cybersecurity, the most effective defenses will leverage a layered approach. The first-level of defense for DDoS attacks ideally will be provided by the network or Internet service provider, which is often the first to see – and block – suspicious network activity.

For those attacks that still manage to get through, companies need their own DDoS identification and mitigation solutions. Some of those solutions may be on-premises appliances and other controls, while others may be provided by cloud-based or managed security services providers. Such “security-as-a-service” offerings are rapidly gaining in popularity, especially if an attack’s scale exceeds the capabilities of the on-premises protections.

In short, there’s little excuse to be reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to DDoS defenses. And, yes, Franklin once again provides some sage advice to those who may be too cavalier in their attitudes about DDoS threat. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.