Understanding anti DDoS: How does it work?

  • DDoS, or distributed denial of service, is a type of cyberattack that tries to make a website or network resource unavailable by flooding it with malicious traffic so that it is unable to operate.
  • There are multiple ways to protect your network and/or your applications from DDoS attacks. The main challenge here is how we can differentiate between legitimate traffic and malicious traffic.
  • Today, various DDoS mitigation methods exist to address this challenge, each with unique strengths. Among the most prevalent are the clean pipe method, CDN dilution, and TCP/UDP-DDoS proxy.

Today’s distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks not only attempt to crash websites and applications but are often used to distract IT security personnel from larger threats like data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other malicious means. Also, modern DDoS attacks are now very sophisticated and can combine low-and-slow application DDoS attacks, volumetric attacks, and authentication-based DDoS attacks. To defend against these attacks, organisations deploy Anti-DDoS measures, employing various strategies and technologies to mitigate the impact of malicious traffic.

Also read: 4 key things to know about DDoS attacks

What is a DDoS attack?

A DDoS attack occurs when multiple compromised devices, often referred to as botnets, flood a target system or network with an overwhelming amount of traffic. This flood of traffic consumes the target’s resources, such as bandwidth, processing power, or memory, rendering it inaccessible to legitimate users.

Also read: ChatGPT went down due to DDoS attack, not its popularity

How DDoS protection does its job

Safeguarding against DDoS attacks involves various methods aimed at distinguishing legitimate traffic from malicious ones. Multiple DDoS protection techniques exist, each with distinct advantages and limitations. Among the most prevalent are the clean pipe method, CDN dilution, and TCP/UDP-DDoS proxy.

Clean pipe DDoS protection

The essence of the clean pipe approach lies in channeling all incoming traffic through a designated “clean pipe” or scrubbing center. Within this pipeline, malicious traffic is identified and segregated from legitimate traffic, allowing only legitimate user traffic to reach the web server.

Clean pipe protection has gained popularity and is now widely offered by ISPs and DDoS mitigation services. Previously, ISPs commonly resorted to blackholing to mitigate DDoS attacks, which resulted in the negation of all traffic, including legitimate ones.

While versatile, the clean pipe method lacks specialised protection for specific applications, making it a generalist rather than a specialist in DDoS protection.

CDN dilution DDoS protection

CDN, or Content Delivery Network, is a system of distributed networks that serves content to the users. So, servers nearest to the user will respond to the request and not your original server.

A CDN system, thus, has two key benefits in protecting the system against DDoS attacks: first, since a lot of servers are involved, the sum of the bandwidth is much bigger. With huge bandwidth, the CDN technology can effectively absorb layer-3 or layer-4 DDoS attacks (or volumetric DDoS attacks).

Second, the original server is not the one responding to the user’s request, and so it’s much harder for any DDoS attack to reach this server. 

TCP/UDP proxy DDoS protection

For websites or platforms utilising TCP or UDP services such as email (SMTP), SSH access, or gaming services, the presence of open ports can expose vulnerabilities to DDoS attacks.

To address this vulnerability, a TCP/UDP-based proxy is employed, functioning akin to CDN dilution-based protection. This proxy intercepts data packets, filtering out malicious traffic and packets.

A TCP/UDP reverse proxy offers versatility and accuracy by allowing defined ports to access rather than opening all ports. Additionally, it effectively absorbs slow DDoS attacks.


Aria Jiang

Aria Jiang, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in IT infrastructure. She graduated from Ningbo Tech University. Send tips to a.jiang@btw.media

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