AWS News Blog

AWS Shield Advanced Update – Automatic Application Layer DDoS Mitigation

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In 2016, we launched AWS Shield, a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that safeguards applications running on AWS. AWS Shield provides always-on detection and automatic inline mitigations that minimize application downtime and latency without needing to contact AWS Support.

There are two tiers of AWS Shield: Standard and Advanced. All AWS customers benefit from the automatic network layer protections of AWS Shield Standard and at no cost. AWS Shield Standard defends against the most common, frequently occurring network and transport layer (Layer 3 and 4) DDoS attacks to maximize the availability of AWS services.

For customized protection against sophisticated (Layer 3 to 7) threats targeting your applications, you can subscribe to AWS Shield Advanced. AWS Shield Advanced provides more sensitive detection and tailored mitigations against large and complex DDoS attacks, near real-time visibility into attacks, and integration with AWS WAF, a web application firewall for defense against Layer 7 attacks. AWS Shield Advanced also gives you 24-7 access to the AWS Shield Response Team (SRT) and cost protection against scaling costs stemming from DDoS attacks.

AWS Shield Advanced establishes a traffic baseline for each protected resource. Significant deviations from this baseline are flagged as DDoS events and trigger alerts through Amazon CloudWatch. However, mitigating these events still requires manually crafting an AWS WAF rule that isolates the malicious traffic, deploying it through the AWS WAF console or API, and evaluating the rule’s effectiveness. AWS Shield Advanced customers can utilize the SRT to create such AWS WAF rules or rely on their own expertise, but the process is time-consuming, which increases the time it takes to mitigate a DDoS attack and prevent availability impact to applications.

Today, we are announcing Automatic Application Layer DDoS Mitigation for AWS Shield Advanced. This is a new set of capabilities included for all Shield Advanced customers that automatically mitigate malicious web traffic that threatens to impact application availability. This feature automatically creates, tests, and deploys AWS WAF rules to mitigate layer 7 DDoS events on behalf of customers.

Enabling Automatic Application Layer DDoS Mitigation
Visit the AWS Shield console to get started with automatic application layer DDoS mitigation. To get the benefits of Shield Advanced, you must subscribe to an annual subscription.

After you subscribe to AWS Shield Advanced, you specify the resources that you want to protect, configure a layer 7 DDoS mitigation, AWS SRT supports, and a dashboard in CloudWatch to monitor DDoS events. To learn more, see Getting started with AWS Shield Advanced in the AWS documentation.

To enable Shield Advanced automatic application layer DDoS mitigation, select your layer 7 AWS resources (e.g. CloudFront), and choose Configure protections from the drop down list.

Next, in Configure protections, choose if you would like to enable automatic mitigation of layer 7 events and select if whether WAF rules should be created in Count or Block mode in Automatic response. Placing WAF rules in Count mode allows you to observe how resource traffic would be affected before deploying them in Block mode. Please note that a WebACL must be associated with a Shield protected resource in order to enable automatic layer 7 mitigation.

Configure protections screenshot

Mitigation actions can be changed to count or block mode at any time. Navigate to the Events tab of the console to view detected DDoS events, and select a detected event to see detection, mitigation, and top contributor metrics.

How to Mitigate Application Layer DDoS Automatically
When you want to protect layer 7 resources, such as CloudFront distributions, AWS Shield Advanced will establish a 30-day traffic baseline into each protected resource.

When automatic mitigation is enabled, only then will we create a Shield managed rule group in which AWS Shield Advanced will create AWS WAF rules in response to DDoS events.

Traffic that significantly deviates from the established baseline will be flagged as a potential DDoS event. After an event is detected, Shield Advanced will attempt to identify a signature based on offending request patterns. If a signature is identified, WAF rules will be created to mitigate traffic with that signature.

Once rules are confirmed to be safe, they will be added to the Shield-managed rule group, and customers can choose whether the rules are deployed in count or block mode. Customers can also create CloudWatch alerts based on when requests are being blocked or counted.

Customers can change the action that automatic mitigation takes (count or block) or disable it entirely at any time. Shield Advanced will automatically remove AWS WAF rules after it has determined that an event has fully subsided. To learn more, see Shield Advanced automatic application layer DDoS mitigation in the AWS Shield Developer Guide.

Available Now
Automatic Application Layer DDoS Mitigation is now available for CloudFront distributions protected by AWS Shield Advanced, and it can be enabled at no additional cost.

You can send feedback to the AWS forum for AWS Shield or through your usual AWS Support contacts.


Channy Yun

Channy Yun

Channy Yun is a Principal Developer Advocate for AWS, and passionate about helping developers to build modern applications on latest AWS services. A pragmatic developer and blogger at heart, he loves community-driven learning and sharing of technology, which has funneled developers to global AWS Usergroups. His main topics are open-source, container, storage, network & security, and IoT. Follow him on Twitter at @channyun.