Introducing UltraPlatform: the cloud infrastructure platform top brands depend on to safeguard their online presence
Pat Barnes, Sr Director of Product Management
Businesses today depend on their online presence, whether it be websites that drive e-commerce, mobile applications backed by APIs that deliver services directly to customers, or any multitude of productivity, communication, customer service, and other business applications. Because of this, businesses need to protect their online presence against threats that run the gamut from attackers attempting to exploit web application vulnerabilities to cyber-criminals that threaten to cripple websites unless a ransom is paid. UltraPlatform combines the three essential ingredients businesses need to ensure their online presence is fully protected: rock-solid authoritative DNS, powerful web application security, and best-in-class DDoS attack identification and suppression. Here are a few analogies to demonstrate why a business should be concerned with all three:
Remember phone books? Back when they existed—and before the Internet—people would use these public directories to look up someone or someplace to obtain a phone number and street address. If your phone number or address was incorrect for your listing, people might not be able to find you. In that way, DNS can be considered the phone book of the Internet. DNS translates a domain name that can be remembered, like www.neustarsecurityservices.com, into an IP address that isn’t memorable—and even if it were, it could change often. Suppose the authoritative DNS service for that domain is down or has been compromised. In that case, people might not get the IP address, or worse, they might get an IP address chosen by a hacker, which could lead users to a different IP address with a website that returns anything the hacker wants, from gloating and abusive propaganda to a virus download that harvests your credentials, to an open letter demanding a ransom be paid. DNS is an absolutely critical component of any online interaction, which is why UltraPlatform includes UltraDNS or UltraDNS2—providing customers with the reliable, available, and secure authoritative DNS they can’t do without.
Continuing with the analogy, Jane—our unsung protagonist for the remainder of this story—has looked up a business in the phone book—let’s say it’s “Uncle Billy’s Hobby Store”—and since the phone book used was both trusted and correct, Jane is able to obtain the store’s address. The store is across town, so she’ll need to drive there. She leaves her house, gets on the road, and then hits a dead-stop because the road in front of her is blocked by a huge traffic jam that seems to go on for miles. Dismayed, she’s eventually able to turn around and go home. Whatever created that traffic jam was able to prevent Jane from getting to her destination. In fact, the perpetrators were able to prevent all legitimate traffic from getting to Uncle Billy’s Hobby Store, costing Uncle Billy sales and maybe even reputation.
This is like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Like the traffic jam analogy, a DDoS attack occurs when a bad actor sends traffic to a target with the malicious intent of overwhelming or otherwise disrupting an application or service. The costs of DDoS attacks are staggering, with an estimated average cost of $5,600 per minute1! This is why UltraPlatform includes UltraDDoS Protect. UltraDDoS Protect provides powerful attack detection and top-tier DDoS mitigation capabilities that suppress threats to businesses before they become attacks.
A day or so later Jane tries again, and this time is able to arrive at Uncle Billy’s Hobby Store. Jane brought a friend who distracts Uncle Billy as Jane then goes and steals the master customer list that the store keeps under the counter. As it turns out, Jane isn’t the protagonist of this story, but rather the antagonist, exploiting vulnerabilities at Uncle Billy’s Hobby Store to steal proprietary data. Jane succeeded because Uncle Billy’s was understaffed, and the owner was easily distracted. Jane then blackmails Uncle Billy, threatening to send offensive materials to every customer on the list unless the owner pays Jane and her friend a large sum. Darn it, Jane! We thought you were cool!
This is like a web application attack, if Uncle Billy’s were a website storefront and Jane were a cyber-criminal. In that scenario, Jane would use an attack like SQL injection that targets vulnerabilities in the application layer of websites and web applications in order to steal data inside them. Web applications have to be accessible to every user connecting from any network at any time. But many have problematic security weaknesses; as of 2021, 50% of all web applications were considered vulnerable to attack2. This is why UltraPlatform includes UltraWAF, which provides flexible, always-on protection that defends web applications, wherever they are hosted, against virtually all application layer threats. Malicious bots are another constant threat. They are leveraged for a range of potentially devastating attacks, including account takeover fraud, credential stuffing and carding fraud, inventory hoarding, and numerous other malicious activities. In fact, there’s a good chance a bad bot is crawling across your site as you read this. One recent report found that more than half of all traffic to gaming and gambling websites—53.9%—came from malicious bots3. Of course, legitimate bots also visit your site all the time, performing important functions like maintaining search engine data. But distinguishing malicious from legitimate traffic is extremely challenging. For this reason, UltraWAF includes strong bot management capabilities that detect and categorize bots, applying appropriate countermeasures to neutralize malicious bots, all without impeding legitimate traffic.
Analogies complete. I hope Jane gets what she deserves. But we’ve learned that UltraPlatform provides comprehensive online presence protection with an integrated suite of cloud-based security solutions. UltraPlatform is monitored and supported by experienced IT security professionals in our 24/7 security operations center (SOC) and backed by outstanding customer support. Professional services are available to assist in installation and configuration and maximize their value to your business.
There’s an UltraPlatform offering for every scale or focus. Maybe you’re focused on authoritative DNS but want to gain experience with DDoS and web application protections for select segments of your landscape. Or maybe you’re heavily invested in DDoS and/or web application protections but want additional control by adding advanced authoritative DNS. Whatever your focus or scale, contact us to learn more about strengthening your protections against significant threats with the powerful, comprehensive cloud-based capabilities provided by UltraPlatform.