Can a Firewall Prevent DDOS Attacks (Explained)

Can a firewall prevent DDOS attacks
Can a firewall prevent DDOS attacks

With the maximum number of people being online, it has become very crucial for each and every user to implement some kind of cyber security tool on their devices and network to protect against various harmful cyber-attacks. Now, most of the time, there are few tools like Firewall that can be really helpful in bifurcating legitimate and malicious traffic from the network. But, with the increase in the number of new cyber-attacks, can a firewall prevent a user from each and every attack? Can a firewall prevent DDOS attacks?

Well, let’s try to find out the answer!

Can a firewall prevent DDOS attacks?

NO, a firewall system despite its type, cannot prevent a DDOS attack. In fact, DDOS attack takes advantage of the open firewall ports (intended for a legitimate user) to exploit the user’s IoT devices.

Further stating, according to a report from NETSCOUT, more than 10 million DDOS attacks were launched in the year 2020, during the lockdown phase, when almost everything went online including healthcare, education, e-commerce, and streaming services. These services were affected so badly that some businesses faced constant interruptions, while some fell victim to extortion that was demanded by the attackers. 

Another report that was penned by Softpedia.com states that a US-based security vendor Sucuri discovered a DDOS attack in 2016 when it was trying to implement a Firewall system for a jewelry shop that was facing a DDOS attack for a long time. This attack mainly targeted CCTV systems around the world.

Below is a graph that represents the Global stats of DDOS attacks carried out by the attackers in the year 2021.

Graph of DDOS attack carried out in 2021 – Image source: Statista

Are there any alternatives to prevent DDOS attacks?

According to a survey carried out by the security professionals of Corero, nearly one-third (30%) of respondents rely on old security infrastructure products like firewalls, IPS, and load balancers, to protect their businesses from DDOS attacks. But little did they know, that they were more susceptible to DDOS attacks, as these orthodox security measures weren’t enough to keep this attack at bay. 

Therefore, one should always try to implement these preventive measures that are mentioned below:

Understand your network’s traffic patterns:

Every organization has a fixed type of internet traffic pattern. Therefore, examine yours to understand your organization’s normal traffic pattern, which will help you in identifying any abnormal patterns and prevent occurring DDOS attacks.

Make your network resilient:

Yes, make your network resilient as much as possible against DDOS attacks. Meaning? Install more than firewalls, because DDOS attacks can easily bypass firewall security. Plus, make sure to keep all of your data centers on different networks, which are again not in the same physical location. Put servers in different data centers and make sure that there aren’t places where traffic bottlenecks in your network.

Create a Denial-of-Service Response Plan:

What will you do, when you suddenly experience a DDOS attack? No clue, right? That is why it is essential to preplan a response to a DDOS attack so that you can handle the situation efficiently.

Although, it may take some time depending on the volume and complexity of your infrastructure. The more complex the infrastructure, the more detailed your response plan should be.

Below are some points that can help you in making an efficient plan:

  • A system checklist.
  • A trained responsive team.
  • Extremely well-defined notifications and escalation procedures.
  • A communication plan for all the stakeholders, customers, and vendors.
  • A list of external as well as internal contacts should be prepared so that they can be informed as soon as the attack is experienced.

Implement DDOS protection solution:

As we all know by now, a firewall is a weak security tool against a DDOS attack. Therefore, it is better to implement a DDOS protection solution that is physically present in front of the firewall – at the network edge, which can easily detect and block incoming DDOS traffic.

Know the symptoms of an attack:

Always, I repeat, always try to know the symptoms of an attack. For example, if you notice that your website is constantly shutting down, or all of a sudden you started getting a lot of spam, then this might be a sign that your website is affected by a DDOS attack.

Practice clean cyber hygiene:

It is very much important to practice clean cyber hygiene, like constantly changing passwords after a certain period of time, secure authentication practices, knowing how to avoid phishing attacks, and so on. The lesser error your organization demonstrates, the safer you will be.

Switch to cloud:

Moving to the cloud will not only eliminate DDOS attacks but will surely help in mitigating them. Moreover, the cloud has more bandwidth than the physical resources, and the servers are not located in the same place.

Scale up your bandwidth:

Lastly, scale up your bandwidth, so that your organization will be able to handle a huge volume of traffic. Plus, if your organization is affected by a DDOS attack, then scaling up your bandwidth can help in lessening the severity of the traffic jam. 

However, this solution is not a foolproof one, because there has been an incident in 2018, where the DDOS attack topped at 1Tbps in size for the first time ever, followed by 1.7 Tbps after some days.

Final Remarks on “Can firewall prevent DDOS attack?”

So, after this discussion, it is very much clear that a firewall system, whether it be hardware or software, cannot prevent a user from a DDOS attack. And therefore, it is better to implement other alternatives like DDOS protection solutions which will surely prevent harmful DDOS attacks on a local network.