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What Is DDoS Protection By Cloudflare? Know Here

5 Min. Read

DDoS attacks are a type of cyber attack in which multiple computers are used to flood a website with network traffic, resulting in the site being unavailable to users. Cloudflare’s DDoS attack protection uses various techniques to detect and block these attacks, ensuring that websites remain available to their users.

DDoS attacks have become more frequent over the past few years as they offer malicious ways to take down any website. These attacks can be very disruptive and harmful to the businesses affected by them. Cloudflare’s DDoS protection is designed to reduce the severity of these attacks and limit their effect on websites.

What Is DDoS Protection By Cloudflare? Keep on reading to find out more about ‘What is DDoS protection by Cloudflare’ and how it can help you.

Cloudflare’s DDoS Protection

Cloudflare’s built-in DDoS protection is a service that protects websites from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. It is available to all customers, regardless of their plan type. This protection is included in Cloudflare’s Free, Pro, Business, and Enterprise plans.

Cloudflare's DDoS Protection
Image Credit by Cloudflare – [ DDoS Prevention: Protecting The Origin ]
Their service provides unlimited DDoS attack prevention and is enabled by default by CloudFlare’s Autonomous DDoS Protection Edge. This feature will safeguard you against attacks across L3/4 and L7 of the OSI model.

What is a DDoS attack?

A DDoS attack is a type of cyberattack in which multiple computers flood the target system with requests, disrupting its normal operation. DDoS attacks can be very difficult to stop because they often come from multiple computers that have been infected with malware. This makes it hard to identify the source of the attack. Cloudflare’sDDoS protection uses a number of techniques to stop these attacks, including rate limiting and filtering out malicious traffic.

  • Rate limiting is a technique that limits the number of requests that can be made to a server in a given period of time. This can help to stop DDoS attacks because it prevents the attacker from flooding the server with requests.
  • Filtering out malicious traffic is another way to stop DDoS attacks. This is done by identifying and blocking traffic that is coming from known malicious sources.

What is a DDoS attack?
Image Credit by Cloudflare – [ DDoS attack trends ]
The distributed characteristic of a DDoS attack is what makes it tough to source. However, Cloudflare deploys ‘location-aware DDos Protection’, which gives us the edge over the attacker.

How Does Cloudflare Protect Against DDoS Attacks?

Any DDoS protection is designed to counteract the attacker’s advantage. Since it knows where the majority of your visitors are coming from, a sudden spike in this number alerts the system.

For instance, if you run an online store aimed primarily at the European market, the majority of your traffic will come from EU countries only followed by a smaller percentage of users from other areas. If the system detects any abnormal traffic spikes that originate from regions outside of your typical geography, it will begin investigating the source.

Cloudflare DDoS also uses machine learning algorithms to filter bots and provide accurate protection.

Technical Overview

Cloudflare is able to asynchronously identify DDoS attacks without impacting your website’s performance. Its algorithms evaluate traffic samples that are ‘out-of-path’.

These samples mainly include:

  • Metadata from an HTTP request: This includes the TLS cipher version, HTTP version, HTTP method, headers, and request rate.
  • Packet Fields: This includes source IP, destination IP, protocol, options, packet rate, and destination port.
  • HTTP response metrics: Stats on the speed and frequency of HTTP responses including error codes and rates reported by the client’s origin servers.

Post analysis, if any traffic source matches a rule, CloudFlare will start to monitor the traffic and create a real-time signature to detect the attack pattern. These signatures are unique and depend upon the relative intensity of each signal.

Cloudflare keeps checking for such signatures regularly and will stop monitoring it if no new traffic matches the rules, which happens when the attack has ended.

Benefits of Using Cloudflare’s DDoS Protection Service

Cloudflare’s DDoS protection service is one of the most popular and effective ways to protect your website from attacks.

It uses a global network of servers to absorb and mitigate incoming traffic spikes, protecting your site from slowing down due to malicious traffic.

DDoS protection by Cloudflare is easy to set up and requires no special hardware or software, making it an ideal solution for small and medium-sized businesses.

Cloudflare’s DDoS protection service is backed by a team of security experts who monitor the network 24/7 and quickly respond to any requests.

The service is available free of charge for all Cloudflare users and customers.

Cloudflare’s DDoS Protection Service: Configuration

You will need to turn on the DDoS protection service if you previously toggled it off manually. This should be done in an event where you feel that your website is under attack. Common signs of a DDoS attack include:

  • Problems with accessibility and increased load times on your website.
  • The number of requests through Cloudflare or bandwidth goes up suddenly. This can be tracked via the Cloudflare analytics app.
  • Your web server records strange requests that don’t seem to fit with typical user behavior.

This protection service is turned on by default for customers subscribed to the Advanced DDoS service. It flags suspicious activity based on your last 7-day P95 rates and generates real-time signatures to mitigate attacks across the network and application layers.

  • HTTP DDoS attack protection: Automatic mitigation of HTTP-based DDoS attacks such as HTTP floods, amplification HTTP attacks, and reflection HTTP attacks.
  • SSL/TLS DDoS attack protection: Automatic mitigation of SSL/TLS-based DDoS attacks and encryption-based attacks such as DDoS attacks, SSL exhaustion floods, and SSL negotiation attacks.
  • Network-layer DDoS attack protection: Automatic mitigation of network-layer DDoS attacks such as ACK floods, SYN-ACK amplification attacks, UDP attacks, ICMP attacks, and DDoS attacks launched by botnets such as Mirai.

To configure DDoS protection, proceed with the following steps:

1) Log in to your Cloudflare account.

2) Select the website you want to protect from the drop-down menu.

3) Click on the Security tab.

4) Scroll down to Settings, and select Security Level, then set ‘I’m Under Attack!‘ from the drop-down menu as shown in the figure below.

Set Security Level Settings in Cloudflare
Set Security Level Settings in Cloudflare

5) Cloudflare will now start filtering requests and protecting your website from DDoS attacks.

Please note that ‘I’m Under Attack!‘ should only be used if your website is under a DDoS attack. Visitors will receive an interstitial page while we analyze their traffic and behavior to make sure they are legitimate human visitors trying to access your website.

Note: I’m Under Attack! may affect some actions on your domain. For example, it may block access to your API. You can set a custom security level for any part of your domain using Page Rules.

You can view the source and spike rates in the Security Overview Dashboard.

Security Overview | Firewall Events
Security Overview | Firewall Events

Summing Up

DDoS protection by Cloudflare is a service that helps to protect your website from DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. In these attacks, hackers attempt to overload a website or server with requests, preventing legitimate users from accessing the website.

Cloudflare DDoS protection monitors any strange access requests and prevents your website from slowing down.

Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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About the Author
Charbel Nemnom
Charbel Nemnom is a Senior Cloud Architect with 21+ years of IT experience. As a Swiss Certified Information Security Manager (ISM), CCSP, CISM, Microsoft MVP, and MCT, he excels in optimizing mission-critical enterprise systems. His extensive practical knowledge spans complex system design, network architecture, business continuity, and cloud security, establishing him as an authoritative and trustworthy expert in the field. Charbel frequently writes about Cloud, Cybersecurity, and IT Certifications.

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