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Cloudflare recognized as a 'Leader' in The Forrester Wave for DDoS Mitigation Solutions


8 min read

We’re thrilled to announce that Cloudflare has been named a leader in The Forrester WaveTM: DDoS Mitigation Solutions, Q1 2021. You can download a complimentary copy of the report here.

According to the report, written by, Forrester Senior Analyst for Security and Risk, David Holmes, “Cloudflare protects against DDoS from the edge, and fast… customer references view Cloudflare’s edge network as a compelling way to protect and deliver applications.”

Unmetered and unlimited DDoS protection for all

Cloudflare was founded with the mission to help build a better Internet — one where the impact of DDoS attacks is a thing of the past. Over the last 10 years, we have been unwavering in our efforts to protect our customers’ Internet properties from DDoS attacks of any size or kind. In 2017, we announced unmetered DDoS protection for free — as part of every Cloudflare service and plan including the Free plan — to make sure every organization can stay protected and available.

Thanks to our home-grown automated DDoS protection systems, we’re able to provide unmetered and unlimited DDoS protection for free. Our automated systems constantly analyze traffic samples asynchronously as to avoid impact to performance. They scan for DDoS attacks across layers 3-7 of the OSI model. They look for patterns in IP packets, HTTP requests and HTTP responses. When an attack is identified, a real-time signature is generated in the form of an ephemeral mitigation rule. The rule is propagated to the most optimal location in our edge for the most cost-efficient mitigation: either in the Linux kernel’s eXpress Data Path (XDP), Linux userspace iptables or in the HTTP reverse-proxy. A cost-efficient mitigation strategy means that we can mitigate the most volumetric, distributed attacks without impacting performance.

Read more about how Cloudflare’s DDoS protection systems work here.

DDoS attacks increasing

We’d like to say DDoS attacks are a thing of the past. But unfortunately, they are not.

On the contrary, we continue to see the frequency, sophistication, and geographical distribution of DDoS attacks rise every quarter - in quantity or size. See our reports from last year (Q1 ‘20, Q2 ‘20, Q3 ‘20, and Q4 ‘20) and view overall Internet traffic trends here on Cloudflare Radar.

Over the past year, Cloudflare has seen and automatically mitigated some of the largest and arguably the most creative cyber attacks. As attackers are getting bolder and smarter in their ways, organizations are looking for ways to battle these kinds of attacks with no disruption to the services they provide.

DDoS attacks in 2020

Organizations are being extorted under threat of DDoS

In January this year, we shared the story of how we helped a Fortune Global 500 company stay online and protected whilst they were targeted by a ransom DDoS attack. They weren’t the only one. In fact, in the fourth quarter of 2020, 17% of surveyed Cloudflare customers reported receiving a ransom or a threat of DDoS attack. In Q1 2021, this increased to 26% — roughly 1 out of every 4 respondents reported a ransom threat and a subsequent DDoS attack on their network infrastructure.

Whether organizations are targeted with ransom attacks or amateur ‘cyber vandalism’, it's important for organizations to utilize an always-on, automated DDoS protection service that doesn’t require manual human intervention in the hour of need. We take great pride in being able to provide this level of protection to our customers.

Continuous improvement

As attacks have continued to evolve, and the number of customers using our services has increased, Cloudflare has continually invested in our technology to stay several steps ahead of attackers. We’ve made significant investments in bolstering our mitigation capacity, honing our detection algorithms, and providing better analytics capabilities to our customers. Our aim is to make impact from DDoS attacks a thing of the past, for all customers, just like spam in the 90s.

In 2019, we rolled out our autonomous DDoS detection and mitigation system, dosd. This component of our mitigation stack is fully software-defined, leverages Linux’s eXpress Data Path (XDP), and allows us to quickly and automatically deploy eBPF rules that run on each packet received for inspection — mitigating the most sophisticated attacks within less than 3 seconds on average at the edge and other common attacks instantly. It works by detecting patterns in the attack traffic and then quickly deploying rules autonomously to drop the offenders at wire speed. Additionally, because dosd operates independently within each data center, with no reliance on a centralized data center, it greatly increases the resilience of our network.

While dosd is great at mitigating attacks by detecting patterns in the traffic, what about patternless attacks? That’s where flowtrackd comes in, our novel TCP state classification engine, built in 2020, to defend against disruptive L3/L4 attacks targeting our Magic Transit customers. It’s able to detect and mitigate the most randomized, sophisticated attacks. Additionally, at L7, we also learn our customer’s traffic baselines and identify when their origin is in distress. When an origin server shows signs of deterioration, our systems begin soft mitigation in order to reduce the impact on the server and allow it to recuperate.

Building advanced DDoS protection systems is not only about the detection, but also about cost efficient mitigation. We aim to mitigate attacks without impacting performance that can be caused due to excessive computational consumption. This requirement is why we introduced IP Jails to the world: IP Jails is a gatebot capability that mitigates the most volumetric and distributed attacks without impacting performance. Gatebot activates IP Jails when attacks become significantly volumetric, and then instead of blocking at L7, IP Jails temporarily drops the connection of the offending IP address that generated the request which matched the attack signature that gatebot created. IP Jails leverages the Linux iptables mechanism to drop packets at wirespeed. Dropping L7 attacks at L4, is significantly more cost-efficient, and benefits both our customers and our Site Reliability Engineering team.

Lastly, to provide our customers better visibility and insight into the increasingly sophisticated attacks we’re seeing and mitigating, we released the Firewall Analytics dashboard in 2019. This dashboard provides insights into both HTTP application security and DDoS activity at L7, allowing customers to configure rules directly from within analytics dashboards thus tightening the feedback loop for responding to events. Later in 2020, we released an equivalent dashboard for L3/4 activity for our enterprise Magic Transit and Spectrum customers, in the form of the Network Analytics dashboard. Network Analytics provides insight into packet-level traffic and DDoS attack activity, along with periodical Insights and Trends. To complement the dashboards and provide our users the right information as they need it, we rolled out real-time DDoS alerts and also periodical DDoS reports -- right into your inboxes. Or if you prefer, directly into your SIEM dashboards.

Cloudflare received the top score in the strategy category

This year, due to our advanced DDoS protection capabilities, Cloudflare received the top score in the strategy category and among the top three in the current offering category. Additionally, we were given the highest possible scores in 15 criteria in the report, including:

  • Threat detection
  • Burst attacks
  • Response automation
  • Speed of implementation
  • Product vision
  • Performance
  • Security operation center (SOC) service

We believe that our standing stems from the sustained investments we’ve made over the last few years in our global Anycast network — which serves as the foundation of all services we provide to our customers.

Our network is architected for scale — every service runs on every server in every Cloudflare data center that spans over 200 cities globally. And as opposed to some of the other vendors in the report, every Cloudflare service is delivered from every one of our edge data centers.

Integrated security and performance

A leading application performance monitoring company that uses Cloudflare’s services for serverless compute and content delivery recently told us that they wanted to consolidate their performance and security services under one provider. They got rid of their incumbent L3 services provider and onboarded Cloudflare for their application and network services (with Magic Transit) for easier management and better support.

We see this more and more. The benefits of using a single cloud provider for bundled security and performance services are plentiful:

  • Easier management — users can manage all of Cloudflare’s services such as DDoS protection, WAF, CDN, bot management and serverless compute from a single dashboard and a single API endpoint.
  • Deep service integration - all of our services are deeply integrated which allows our users to truly leverage the power of Cloudflare. As an example, Bot Management rules are implemented with our Application Firewall.
  • Easier troubleshooting — instead of having to reach out to multiple providers, our customers have a single point of contact when troubleshooting. Additionally, we provide immediate human response in our under attack hotline.
  • Lower latency — because every one of our services are delivered from all of our data centers, there are no performance penalties. As an example, there are no additional routing hops between the DDoS service to Bot Management service to CDN service.

However, not all cloud services are built the same, i.e. most vendors today do not have a comprehensive and robust solution to offer. Cloudflare’s unique architecture enables it to offer an integrated solution that comprises an all-star cast featuring the following to name a few:

  • CDN: Cloudflare CDN recognized as a Gartner Peer Insights "Customer's Choice" in 2020 for Global CDN1
  • DDoS: Received the highest number of high scores in the 2020 Gartner report for Solution Comparison for DDoS Cloud Scrubbing Centers2
  • WAF: Cloudflare is a CHALLENGER in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Application Firewall (receiving the highest placement in the ‘Ability to Execute’)3
  • Zero Trust: Cloudflare is a LEADER in the Omdia Market Radar: Zero-Trust Access Report, 20204
  • Bot Management: Leader in the 2020 SPARK Matrix of Bot Management Market5
  • Integrated solution: Innovation leader in the Global Holistic Web Protection Market for 2020 by Frost & Sullivan6

We are pleased to be named a LEADER in The Forrester Wave™: for DDoS Mitigation Solutions, Q1 2021 report, and will continue to work tirelessly to remain, as the report puts it, a “compelling way to protect and deliver applications” for our customers.

For more information about Cloudflare’s DDoS protection, reach out to us here or hands-on evaluation of Cloudflare, sign up here.

3Gartner, “Magic Quadrant for Web Application Firewalls'', Analyst(s): Jeremy D'Hoinne, Adam Hils, John Watts, Rajpreet Kaur, October 19, 2020.

We protect entire corporate networks, help customers build Internet-scale applications efficiently, accelerate any website or Internet application, ward off DDoS attacks, keep hackers at bay, and can help you on your journey to Zero Trust.

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Vivek Ganti|@VivekGanti
Omer Yoachimik|@OmerYoahimik

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