Take a second to test your knowledge: What do HSBC, Amazon, and SAB Miller all have in common? It isn’t that they are the same industry. They’re not. One of these companies is a bank, one is an online mega-seller, and one is a brewery. Give up? They’ve each suffered the financial pain of a DDoS attack.
The Rude Truth
In April of 2012 hackers launched a massive attack against the official websites for the Department of Justice and CIA. Last week President Obama, in his fifth State of the Union Address, launched a Cyber Security Executive Order outlining policies to hold back the increasing cyber espionage directed toward American companies and government agencies. Fire is falling and people are running for cover.
The identity of those perpetrating DDoS attacks may be clouded through the use of reflector or zombie computers, but one thing is for certain – these people are terrorists. They are bullies looking for opportunities to steal. Motivated by greed, ideology, or just sheer meanness, hackers take advantage of system vulnerabilities, and they are becoming less discriminant about their prey. Banks aren’t the only companies getting attacked these days.
DDoS attackers can disrupt your business and steal your time, your money, and your peace of mind. It’s a bit scary, isn’t it? So what does a savvy business do? That answer is simple. When the bad guy gets a big tool, you respond with a bigger one.
DDoS Protected VPS Is The Bigger Tool
You may not be a bank, but if your industry has a history of DDoS attacks, shared hosting is definitely not an option. As soon as you are hit with a denial of service attack it’s a sure bet you will be kicked off the server by your hosting provider. It’s easier to lose one customer dealing with a DDoS attack than have complaints coming in from every customer hosting a site on the server. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes with most web hosting providers. Entry level denial of service protection usually requires moving to a DDoS protected VPS.
Things change. Sharing was all well and good when you were three, and your younger sister wanted to play with your toy car. Sharing in the web hosting realm means that if someone else on your shared server gets attacked, botnets might work their way into your account, compromising your intellectual property, financial assets and client information.
One obvious advantage in switching to a virtual private server is that fewer accounts share server space than with shared hosting.
Three VPS Options | Three Levels of Protection
The three basic types of VPS options available are the OpenVZ option, the Xen option and the KVM technology option. What varies between them is the level of private virtualization they achieve.
The most open, appropriately called OpenVZ, is essentially a series of shared folders written onto a disc. While it does cross the line into private server category, it has the fewest constraints. On the up side, that tends to make to run faster. On the down side, some server companies work overtime trying to make money by loading as many accounts into the same server as they can, which slows things down. You just have to check around.
The next level is a software solution called Xen that runs like a guest server with independent resources. It performs well and is safer than the OpenVZ option, and more insulated from other VPS on the same server. Because it requires greater space, over filling the server with other accounts won’t work. That allows the Xen user to maintain higher efficiency levels. On the down side, because it requires more space to operate it is more expensive. Less space sharing drives prices higher.
The final type KVM, Kernal-Based Virtual Machine option, allows hardware-assisted virtualization to simulate a complete hardware environment or virtual machine. This allows higher performance, efficiency and ultimately protection against DDoS, through greater independence. Again, better costs more but it is better.
Some of the Benefits of Going Private
When you have VPS you gain root access meaning full control of your server and its content. You administer all software updates, scripting and so on. You control how your space is used, and your actual hardware, a single server, will support fewer accounts. More control allows for greater security.
Some of the Trade Offs
Obviously, as mentioned earlier going with VPS is more expensive but the long-term benefit of not having to dig out from a DDoS attack far outweighs the added cost up front. As the administrator of your own system, all software updates needed to maintain and manage the VPS become responsibility of the end user.
When More Expensive Becomes Less Expensive
SAB Miller estimates they lost 7.3 million dollars during the DDoS attack they suffered in 2011. While the impact was not solely on their computer system but the production supported by their system, the point remains clear. A VPS might involve some added cost and responsibility, but the added security can realize enormous savings for your company. And while you may not ever see that bullet you’re dodging because you opted for VPS, in this particular case that is a good thing. That’s peace of mind.