How CDN Has Helped Protect and Secure The Internet


Having vulnerable files, plugin, software, or misconfiguration on your server can expose to security risks, which may have financial and reputational losses. Two metrics are therefore key to the world wide web – Performance & Security and implementing the right content delivery network CDN solution has protected and secured millions of websites. It is little wonder that CDNs are now an integral part of the internet, and they keep hosts and users safe and happy. This post chronicles ways in which CDNs protect and secure the users and ultimately, the internet.

What is a CDN

A CDN is a network of servers geographically distributed globally which work collectively to provide quick and efficient delivery of Internet content. A CDN facilitates the immediate transfer of contents needed for loading internet content, including javascript files, HTML pages, stylesheets, videos, and images. The popularity and use of CDN services keep growing, and most of the web traffic is routed through CDNs, including traffic from major sites like Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon.

How CDNs protect and secure the internet

CDNs deploy various ways to protect the contents. Many CDNs also double as online security specialists and provide their clients with robust performance and security services. In fact, most of these protections are under the hood that clients don’t even know they are running. Below are some of the way CDNs protect and secure the internet.

CDNs provide Reliability and Redundancy

Uptime is a critical component for people conducting services over the internet. Spikes in traffic and hardware failures as a result of just a boost in popularity or malicious attacks can and have brought down web servers and deny users access to content and service. Top CDNs have several features that will minimize downtimes such as load balancing and intelligent failover. All of these have contributed to the efficacy of the internet, ensuring its continued availability.

CDNs facilitate load balancing

The purpose of a load balancer is to distribute network traffic equally across several servers. A CDN uses load balancing in a data center to distribute incoming requests across the available server pool to ensure that spikes in traffic are handled in the most efficient manner possible. By efficiently using available resources, load balancing can increase processing speeds and effectively utilize server capacity. Properly load balancing incoming traffic is a crucial component in mitigating spikes in traffic that occur during atypical internet activity such as when a website is experiencing an unusually high number of visitors or during a distributed denial-of-service attack.

CDN allows for failover between servers

In computer systems that require a high degree of reliability and near continuous availability, failover is used to prevent traffic from being lost when a server is unavailable. When a server goes down, the traffic needs to be rerouted to a server that is still functional. By automatically offloading tasks to a standby system or another machine with available capacity, intelligent failover can prevent disruption of service to users.

CDNs protect from DDoS attacks

One of the most substantial security vulnerabilities of web properties on the modern internet is the use of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Over time DDoS attacks have increased in size and complexity, with attackers utilizing botnets to target websites with attack traffic. A large and properly configured CDN has the potential benefit of scale as a protective factor against DDoS; by having enough data center locations and sizable bandwidth capabilities, a CDN can withstand and mitigate an amount of incoming attack traffic that would easily overwhelm the targeted origin server.

CDNs enhance SSL/TLS encryption

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is an internet protocol used for encrypting data that is sent over the Internet. Any web site that you starts with “https://” rather than “http://” uses TLS/SSL for communication between a browser and a server. Proper encryption practices are a necessity to prevent bad actors from accessing important data. Because the internet is designed in such a way that data is transferred across many locations, it is possible to intercept packets of important information as they move across the globe. Through the utilization of a cryptographic protocol, only the intended recipient is able to decode and read the information and intermediaries are prevented from decoding the contents of the transferred data.

To enable TLS, a site needs an SSL certificate and a corresponding key. A CDN has the added benefit of providing security to visitors of contents hosted within its network using a CDN provided certificate. Because visitors connect to only the CDN, an older or less secure certificate in use between the origin server and the CDN will not affect the client’s experience.

Brute-Force Protection

A brute-force attack is a trial and error method used by hackers to decode encrypted data like passwords through exhaustive effort (using brute force) rather than employing intellectual strategies. Brute Force attacks have been known to take down websites, disrupt services, and cause monetary and reputational damage if they get access to your website server or the users account. However, CDNs provide complete website security and performance solution which protects from brute force and many other vulnerabilities. Many CDNs incorporate captchas, multi-factor authentication, and many other features that protect your contents.

Other protective functions

The protective features offered by CDNs are not limited to the above alone. They offer a lot more features. For instance, CDNs

  • analyzes all the incoming requests to your site and allows only legitimate traffic, stopping in the process attackers, bots, spams and malicious requests at their edge network
  • allow or block requests based on IP, country, URL/URI
  • provide real-time insights of security events including top threat origins and action, a detailed event with IP, action, country, timestamp, triggered rules
  • Spambot protection
  • CAPTCHA security
  • comment spam protection
  • Real-time statistics, uptime monitoring, weekly report, traffic stats
  • Web Application Firewall
  • origin shield
  • Intrusion Detection System
  • Intrusion Prevention System
  • SQLi protection,
  • Page rules
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) protection
  • IPV6 support
  • HTTP/2 and SPDY support
  • Caching, Compression, Minification, Image Optimization
  • Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) support
  • protection for application-specific vulnerabilities like WordPress and Joomla
  • prevention of fake search engine (Google, Baidu, Yandex) bots from crawling
  • HTTP Flood protection and many more.

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