9 september 2021

How a DDoS attack can damage your website

In previous articles, we’ve talked about the various types of DDoS protection and who’s in the most danger of becoming an attack victim. But just how does a Denial of Service attack impact your online business? Here are some of the most notable ways:

  • Website downtime;
  • Increased vulnerability to hacking;
  • SEO penalties;
  • Damaged reputation;
  • Incorrect functioning of certain systems.

How a DDoS attack can damage your website.

Website downtime

By overloading the server’s CPU, RAM, and even network throughput, DDoS renders a website unavailable to customers and backend users alike. That means that if you’re running an online store, your visitors won’t be able to make a purchase. Actually, they won’t even be able to load the homepage. This leads to reputational risks, loss of customer loyalty, and loss of revenue. Imagine how many of those customers will turn to competitors, especially if their request is time-sensitive. In fact, an hour of downtime costed up to $20,000 to one-third of affected businesses interviewed in one research.

Increased vulnerability to hacking

A DDoS attack can shut down some of the security systems of your website, creating additional vulnerabilities. For example, hackers may find it easier to access your resource via a back door, while the website is paralized by a network flood. What’s more, some DDoS actors use the attacks as a diversion, distracting your security staff from potentially more dangerous malware strikes, aimed at stealing sensitive information or gaining access to your system.

SEO penalties

Overloaded websites return 502 bad gateway errors when users try visiting them. If a website is unavailable for long enough, there’s a high chance that Google will crawl the website while it’s down and decrease it’s SEO ranking. What’s more, if the website remains down longer than a couple of days, there’s a chance that when it comes back online, the internal linking structure will be lost for Google indexing, messing up the website’s presentation in search results.  

Risks to reputation

According to a poll of 5,000 businesses, 39% of owners fear losing clients to competitors more than they fear direct revenue loss or spending additional mitigation costs. Indeed, if the website stays down long enough, chances are that even loyal customers will start looking for alternatives in the market. While for some, websites aren’t a direct sales tool, having a resource unavailable is still a direct risk to reputation. Imagine a shop that doesn’t have a store-front, only letting customers in through the backdoor. What shady business may be going in there, right?

Incorrect functioning of certain systems

This is a rarer one, but did you know that DDoS attacks can be used to cheat the system? Imagine running a car bids marketplace that has a leaderboard of most visited ads, located at a prime spot on the homepage. Normally, the ad with the most visits would reflect the hottest, most wanted car and it would make sense to have it highlighted, for the benefit of both the seller and all potential buyers. Yet, a system like this can be easily cheated using DDoS. Since every DDoS attack consists of sending “fake” visitors, AKA bot traffic to a website, if done carefully, it can ramp up the visit counter on a particular page without bringing the whole website down. A smart way to get some free advertising on our imaginary car bidding website. So, if your website has functionality that leverages page visits, filtering out bots is essential to ensuring that it runs properly and fairly.

As you can see, a DDoS attack can inflict tremendous damage to any website, causing victims to lose money, reputation, SEO ranking and even increasing the chance you will get hacked. With experts universally agreeing that the strength and quantity of DDoS attacks will keep increasing in 2021, thinking about protection now is paramount. Thankfully, trusted security providers such as StormWall can take care of your security needs for you, with online DDoS protection. Consider visiting the website protection page to learn more about our solutions.

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