How to protect your company against a DDoS attack

A DDoS attack prevents customers and employees from accessing your website or server. Such an attack lasts for hours and sometimes even days. That costs you money. How do you prevent such an attack and what do you do if it does happen to you?

What is a DDoS attack?

Suppose thousands of people flood into a bakery at the same time. The baker can never help everyone. Out of necessity, he closes his shop and thus makes no money that day. A DDoS attack has the same effect on, say, your online shop.

Revenue loss and reputational damage

DDoS stands for "Distributed Denial of Service". A cyber attacker sends as much data traffic as possible to your website or company network. It does so using a group of computers, a botnet (in Dutch). Hence 'distributed'. Your website or network cannot handle this and crashes. Consequence: no one can access your website or server, or 'denial of service'. This causes you to lose turnover and damage your reputation.


Criminals also use DDoS to extort entrepreneurs. This can cost you a lot of money. This form of cybercrime is called 'ransom DDoS'. A cybercriminal starts a small DDoS attack on your business. And then threatens a major attack unless you pay a ransom.

A DDoS attack is sometimes a malicious prank. Sometimes it is a targeted attack. Think of someone seeking revenge. Or someone taking a competitor offline. You don't need any technical knowledge to carry out such an attack. You hire a DDoS service on a DDoS marketplace, or a 'booter', for a few tens of euros per hour.

Recognising a DDoS attack

How do you know you are suffering from a DDoS attack? A key clue is that you are offline for no apparent reason. For example, in January 2023, the website of the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) was regularly offline. This was due to a DDoS attack by the hacker group Killnet (in Dutch).

Another indication is that your systems are working slower. Or even fail completely. This is because hackers are flooding them with a lot of data traffic via a DDoS attack at that time.

How to make a plan B?

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Against the law

Carrying out a DDoS attack is therefore easy and has unpleasant consequences for your business. Such an attack is always punishable by law (in Dutch). The perpetrator can face a prison sentence of up to five years. If caught, because that is often difficult.

The number of DDoS attacks has been decreasing since the end of 2021, according to the National Internet Providers Management Organisation (NBIP). In the third quarter of 2022, there were 442 attacks in the Netherlands. In the fourth quarter, there were 379. That seems positive. Yet the attacks are increasingly powerful as hackers flood their victims for longer and with more data traffic. And stopping them is increasingly difficult as hackers use multiple attack methods simultaneously.

Protect yourself: 5 tips

These tips will help you protect your business as best you can against an attack:

1. See if you can work without a website and computers. If so, DDoS protection is not necessary.

2. Can you not work without an IT system? Then make sure you have a plan B. Who do you call in case of a DDoS attack? How do you work temporarily during an attack?

3. Choose an internet provider and web host that have anti-DDoS measures. Check whether your provider uses the National Internet Provider Management Organisation's (NBIP's) National Scrubbing Centre NaWas, for example.

4. Use a 'digital scrubbing’ service yourself if your provider does not already do so. Search for 'traffic scrubbing service'. These services only let secure data traffic through to your webshop, for example. The service will catch dangerous traffic such as DDoS attacks for you.

5. When in doubt, call in your IT manager or a cyber security expert to help you with the tips above.

Are you a victim of a DDoS attack despite these tips? Then report it to the Dutch police.