Tagged with IP Address x

Activate DDoS protection

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which aims to “flood” the server with a large number of automated access requests, usually coming from thousands of IP addresses, in order to make the site unavailable. To prevent your site from being disabled due to a DDoS attack, you should activate DDoS protection

The most common DDoS protection service provider is Cloudflare, which offers free plans but with limited options, but there are others such as Deflect, whose services are used by many media, environmental and human rights organisations. Google also offers free DDoS protection through Project Shield, which is intended for news, human rights and election monitoring sites. 

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The internet commonly provides a false sense of anonymity, whereas there is only pseudo-anonymity for most users. Pretty much everyone is identifiable online by their IP address , a unique identifier assigned to you by your internet service provider (ISP).

However, there are tools which can help you mask your actual IP address and provide an additional layer of protection for your online identity. This can be achieved with the use of Tor Browser or Virtual Private Network (VPN)  services.

Tor Browser is a free and open source software customised to work with the Tor network, based upon Mozilla Firefox, which encrypts  your browsing traffic and gives you a new identity, i.e. a new IP address. It is also particularly useful for accessing blocked websites on your network. There are some drawbacks however, as the Tor network provides generally slow internet speeds and users’ identity can be exposed if they do not use Tor Browser properly.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service which enables users to connect to the public internet through a private network, providing an additional encrypted layer of privacy and masking the users’ actual IP address. There are many VPN providers, but users should still take note and be aware of possible security aspects such as:

  • Jurisdiction, i.e. in which country is the company providing VPN services based. Countries which are members of the “Five Eyes” mass surveillance alliance (USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia) should generally be avoided;
  • No logs policy, meaning that the VPN provider doesn’t log your internet traffic made through their network;
  • Regularly performed independent security audits, which are usually documented on the VPN provider’s website;
  • Price - some VPN services are quite expensive, but you should be vary of “completely free” VPN apps , as their business model is almost certainly based on tracking users. However, some paid-service providers  offer free plans with limited possibilities, such as lower speeds and a smaller number of servers .
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Ask for server logs

To determine the potential source of issues with your website, taking a look at server logs  can be of great importance. Server logs are text documents which provide you with various information about all activities on the server. For example, you can see the IP addresses [IP-ADDRESS] and identity of the devices making a request to the server , time and date of the request, etc, which can all be crucial when mitigating a cyber incident.

You can request server logs for a certain time frame from your system administrator or through technical support.  

File a criminal complaint

Once you have the log files from your server from which it could be seen that your website was targeted with a cyber incident, e.g. unauthorised access, you can file a criminal complaint to the police or competent prosecutor. 

When preparing a complaint, make sure you mapped and described the events during the incident as they happened (what behaviour with the site did you notice, at what time, were there any changes you weren’t aware of), prepared the server logs and other useful information, such as screenshots  of suspicious activities. 

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Remote working

Access to applications and data that are physically located in the system (organisation, editorial office) is possible, with appropriate permissions, from any computer in the world. In this way, work is significantly facilitated, shortens the time required for data processing and enables participation in the field work process. 

From a security point of view, teleworking has serious drawbacks. Establishing a connection between the network or server in the system and the external computer opens the possibility for MitM (Man in the Middle) attacks. MitM [MitM] is a type of technical attack in which the client and server are not necessarily at risk, but the attacker uses connection flaws to access their communication and commit data theft. 

A secure way to work remotely is to connect via VPN (Virtual Private Network). It is a service of creating a separate tunnel between two computers on the public network, which is specially encrypted for protection. Of the several types of virtual private networks, the safest is to use the so-called TSL (Transport Layer Security Protocol). One of the best VPN implementation software at the organisational level is OpenVPN

Alternatively, non-profit organisations can opt to use G Suite, i.e. Google’s productivity package which includes several popular tools and products (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, etc.). However, it should be noted that Google’s business model is based on user profiling and analysis of personal data collected from its users.

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Critical points in the system

Each platform has several points that are the most common targets of attack. If the web developer pays attention to these zones when creating the site, it will significantly reduce the risks to the content and provide unhindered access to the site: 

  • Contact forms, surveys and other segments of the site where readers can enter some parameters are certainly the places of highest risk because they allow direct access to the system. If they are not necessary for the operation of the site, it is wise to give up the contact form, while surveys can be limited to one entry per IP address . An interactive relationship with readers can be developed in a separate space that is not directly related to the site itself;
  • The database is also one of the riskier parts of the site. By sending illogical and complex queries to the database, it can be blocked, which prevents readers from accessing the site. The solution is to strictly validate each entry in the database and prevent illegitimate queries via URL or otherwise;
  • Free third-party software that is installed on a platform to make it more interesting can often be an additional risk. This software usually comes in the form of various themes or other objects that improve the functionality and appearance of the site, but it can also contain code or a security flaw that compromises the integrity of the site. Therefore, it is important to always use software made by credible sources, i.e. software for which there is a sufficient number of positive reviews online.
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