3 Ways of Protecting Your Public Cloud Against DDoS Attacks

“DDoS? In the public cloud? That is not a problem.”

Well, not quite.

Although many IT professionals see DDoS attacks as a thing of the past, a new generation of sophisticated DDoS attacks is challenging traditional anti-DDoS defenses, and leading to bigger, more complex, and more damaging attacks than ever before.

This is true even in the public cloud, where many organizations mistakenly think that the public cloud provider will take care of it for them. But with the shift of DDoS attacks to the application-layer, network-layer protections are completely bypassed, and applications are targeted directly, instead of the underlying network stack, leaving them completely vulnerable.

This shift in the attack landscape calls for dedicated DDoS protection of assets deployed in the public cloud. In this blog, we will dive into the diverse array of DDoS protection options for the public cloud environments, the advantages, and drawbacks for each option, and who it is best suited for.

1.Native DDoS Protection by the Cloud Service Provider

Most cloud service providers (CSPs) offer some level of DDoS protection as part of their services. These solutions typically provide network-level protection and traffic scrubbing capabilities. Some cloud environments include this protection “built-in,” as part of their core technology stack. While they are a fundamental layer of defence, they may not be sufficient for mitigating large-scale or sophisticated attacks. However, CSPs also provide an advanced tier of DDoS protection services at an additional cost. These services offer more robust protection, including intelligent traffic analysis, anomaly detection, and the ability to absorb larger attacks.

Advantages and Drawbacks

Simple: CSPs’ DDoS protection services are integrated with their cloud environments, making it easier to set up and manage protection for your cloud-hosted resources. You can often enable and configure DDoS protection directly from your cloud provider’s dashboard.

Scalable: Public cloud providers can leverage their vast network infrastructure and resources to absorb and mitigate large-scale DDoS attacks. This scalability helps maintain service availability during an attack without affecting your cloud resources.

Protection Against Most Common Attacks: While the quality of protection might vary between different cloud providers the native DDoS protection by public cloud providers offers good coverage against most common attack vectors, particularly at the network layer.

Flexible: CSPs offer various protection tiers and configurations, allowing you to tailor your DDoS protection to your specific needs. You can adjust settings as your requirements change.

Free Basic DDoS Protection: Public cloud providers often provide DDoS protection as part of their standard services free of cost, reducing the need for organizations to invest in separate DDoS protection solutions. However, this can protect only against the most common attacks and the advanced tier is required for mitigating any type of sophisticated or application layer attacks.

Drawbacks of Cloud-Native DDoS Protection

Poor Protection Against Advanced Attack Vectors: Cloud providers are not specialized security vendors, and they often lack the expertise that comes from being at the forefront of the cybersecurity industry. While they provide adequate protection against common and frequently occurring attacks, they often lack protection against advanced attack vectors. This is especially true once attacks move into the application-layer, which requires different protections and often involves adding WAF protections.

No SLA Guarantees: Public cloud providers offer no commitments for their basic protection at all. However, if you purchase their advanced tier of DDoS protection, they provide “best effort” SLA commitments, but only for uptime. Moreover, when they do not meet their uptime commitment, they provide remediation in service credits which amounts to a mere fraction of the losses that may have been caused by a service disruption.

No Consistency across Clouds: Public cloud providers provide DDoS protection that is designed to protect their own infrastructure and not their customer’s applications hosted in their private data centre or another cloud infrastructure. Thus, customers with hybrid- and multi-cloud environments as they would then need to manage different solutions for each environment.

Limited Customization: CSP-provided DDoS protection services are typically designed to be easy to configure and use, which is an advantage for many users. However, this simplicity can mean limited customization options for organizations with specific or complex DDoS protection requirements.

Expensive Advanced Tiers: While basic DDoS protection offered by CSPs is free, more advanced, or comprehensive protection options come with additional costs. This becomes quite expensive because you will need to pay a monthly fee for each account or resource, and if you need more visibility into the traffic, you must turn on and pay for an additional service. All the additional charges add up quick and turn out to be quite expensive.

Best for: All in all, the native DDoS protection offered by cloud service providers offers basic protection which provides good coverage for most network-layer attacks. This will be good for those looking for cheap, no hassle, integrated protection with low latency. However, for organizations concerned about advanced protection, and organizations deploying applications across multiple clouds, typically they will need better security capabilities and cross-cloud consistency.

[You might also like: 3 Reasons Your Public Cloud Provider Won’t Protect You From A DDoS Attack]

2.Public Cloud Virtual Appliance

A virtual appliance for DDoS protection is a software-based solution designed to defend against DDoS attacks by filtering and mitigating malicious traffic before it reaches your network or servers. These virtual appliances are deployed within the customers cloud environment as a virtual machine (VM) or container to monitor and mitigate DDoS attacks in real-time.

Advantages and Drawbacks

Flexible Deployment: Virtual appliances are highly flexible and can be deployed in various virtualized environments, including private data centers, public clouds, and hybrid environments. This flexibility makes them suitable for organizations with diverse infrastructures.

Control: Another key reason for selecting a virtual appliance-based DDoS protection is control. Many organizations and network managers put a high premium on control, and having your own virtual appliance in the cloud which allows for maximum control.

Advanced Capabilities: Some DDoS attacks like anti-scanning, brute force, password cracking, etc. require symmetric, two-way visibility into traffic which is possible only when a cloud based virtual appliance is deployed. It can also protect you from DDoS attacks from within the cloud.

Configurability: Virtual appliance solutions offer customizable policies and settings, allowing organizations to tailor their DDoS protection measures to specific needs and threat profiles.


Resource Consumption Cost: Virtual appliances consume computing resources within your virtualized environment. During a DDoS attack, resource consumption can go up significantly, thereby not only increasing your cost but also potentially affecting the performance of other virtual machines or applications on the same infrastructure.

Limited Scalability: While virtual appliances are scalable, there is still a limit to the capacity of the underlying virtualized environment. Extremely large or sophisticated DDoS attacks may exceed the capacity of the virtual appliance license and can cause significant damage.

Management Overhead: Virtual appliances require regular maintenance, including software updates, patches, and policy adjustments. Organizations must allocate time and resources for ongoing management and upkeep.

Deployment Complexity: Deploying and configuring virtual appliances correctly can be complex, especially for organizations without extensive virtualization or cloud expertise.

Best for: Public-cloud virtual appliances are like pineapple on pizza, marmite, or the smell of patchouli: you either love or hate them. They are typically suited for deployments (and IT professionals) who are big on control and flexibility. They will typically be suitable for lift and shift deployment scenarios, applications requiring low latency, or complex architectures.

3.Third-party Cloud Solutions

Third-party DDoS mitigation services are specialized cloud-based solutions offered by independent cybersecurity providers that focus on protecting online services and resources of organizations against DDoS attacks. These services are designed to provide advanced and specialized tools and expertise in detecting and mitigating DDoS attacks and minimize its impact.

Advantages and Drawbacks

Better Protection: Third-party DDoS mitigation ISVs are experts in DDoS attack detection and mitigation. They specialize in monitoring network traffic for signs of DDoS attacks and have in-depth knowledge of attack techniques and trends which makes their protection superior compared to that offered by the CSPs.

Consistency across All Environments: Customers with hybrid and multi-cloud environments will need to manage only one solution for DDoS Protection across their cloud and on-premises environment thereby increasing consistency in security and reducing managing overhead of having multiple solutions.

Continuous Monitoring and Expert Support: Many providers offer 24/7 monitoring and expert support, ensuring that skilled professionals are available around the clock to respond to threats.

Flexible Deployment Options: Most 3rd party solutions offer an always-on and on-demand deployment option to meet the diverse needs of their customers.

Better SLA: Most providers offer a better SLA with additional metrics for attack detection time, mitigation time, alerting, or quality of mitigation as compared to what the CSP offers but this commitment varies from vendor to vendor.


Latency: This depends on the type of deployment option the customer chooses. With the on-demand service option, there is no latency during ‘peacetime’ when you are not under attack. Traffic is diverted only during times of attack, for the attack duration. However, in case of always-on, since all traffic is routed through the network of the DDoS mitigation provider, this will inevitably lead to additional latency to traffic.

Cost: Third-party services come with a cost, which can be a significant consideration, particularly for smaller organizations or organizations that do not have mission critical applications to protect on the cloud.

Best for: Third-party DDoS mitigation services are best for organizations looking for dedicated, advanced DDoS protection, particularly of missions-critical applications. It is also suitable for organizations which are frequently attacked, and need constant, high-grade protection.

In summary, DDoS protection is a fundamental component of cybersecurity in public cloud environments. It ensures the availability, performance, and security of cloud-hosted resources, helping organizations maintain their operations, protect their customers, and safeguard their reputation in an increasingly cloud-dependent world.

Securing your cloud environment against DDoS attacks is a multifaceted endeavour. While cloud service providers offer essential foundational protection, augmenting your defenses with advanced 3rd party cloud services can be vital.

There is no one size fits all here and organizations should carefully weigh the advantages and drawbacks of the different DDoS Protection options to determine whether these services align with their specific security needs. However, in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, it is essential to continuously assess your DDoS protection strategies and adapt them to emerging threats to keep your cloud environment resilient and secure.

Pooja Gupta

Pooja Gupta is a Cloud Security Strategist in Radware's security group and works closely with public cloud providers as a cloud alliance lead. In addition, she works on positioning and messaging for Radware’s DDoS Protection Solutions. Prior to joining Radware, Pooja worked in Vodafone Idea's Enterprise Business Division as a National Sales Manager and at Mu Sigma, a data analytics firm, as a Data Scientist. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, and an MBA in Marketing from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management in Pune, India.

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