When researching potential cyber threats facing your small business, you’ll probably come across distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. According to Cox Business, the number of DDoS attacks has increased by 250% over the past three years. It’s an increasingly common cyber threat that can cripple your small business’s information technology (IT) infrastructure if left unaddressed.

What Is a DDoS Attack?

A DDoS attack is a digital attack on a victim’s computer or network that involves spamming the victim’s Internet Protocol (IP) address with an excessive amount of traffic from multiple devices. After identifying the target victim’s IP address, a hacker will initiate a DDoS attack, during which each device in his or her network — known as a botnet — will spam the victim’s IP address with requests.

Normally, computers and other devices can handle these requests. After all, that’s the basis on which devices communicate to each other over both private and public networks, including the internet. But DDoS attacks exploit this communications protocol by spamming the victim’s IP address with these requests, eventually crippling the victim’s internet connection and preventing him or her from downloading or uploading files.

DoS vs DDoS: What’s the Difference?

There are both denial-of-service (DoS) attacks as well as DDoS attacks. While both are designed to flood the victim’s IP address with traffic, though, they aren’t necessarily the same. In a DoS attack, the hacker uses a single traffic source. In a DDoS attack, the hacker uses a network of multiple traffic sources.

It’s not uncommon for a DDoS attack to involve thousands or even hundreds of thousands of hijacked devices. Each device in this botnet spams the victim’s IP address, causing serious speed and performance issues.

How to Protect Your Small Business From DDoS Attacks

As a small business owner, you can protect your IP address from DDoS attacks in several ways. For starters, you can use DDoS-resistant hosting, which lives up to its namesake by reducing the risk of DDoS attacks. With DDoS hosting, data is stored on multiple servers spread across a large geographic area. With each server having its own unique IP address, it’s naturally protected against DDoS attacks. Even if a hacker spams one of the IP addresses, the other addresses will remain untargeted. As a result, those servers can continue to provide access to your small business’s data.

You can also use a scrubbing server to filter potentially malicious traffic. Scrubbing servers are designed to scan incoming traffic, and if an IP address is believed to be part of a botnet, it will block any requests sent from that address.