How to Protect DDoS Attacks with Nginx

Protect DDoS Attacks with Nginx

The ever-evolving digital landscape has brought not just opportunities but also threats, among which Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks stand as a formidable challenge for online entities. These assaults, aimed at rendering a service or network unavailable, can be crippling. In this guide, we delve into leveraging Nginx, a robust web server and reverse proxy, as a shield against DDoS attacks.

Understanding DDoS Attacks

DDoS assaults come in varied forms, from overwhelming networks with traffic to exploiting vulnerabilities. Their motive ranges from extortion to activism. These attacks can paralyze online services, impacting revenue and reputation. Recent statistics show a surge in the frequency and intensity of such attacks, emphasizing the urgency of fortified defenses.

Types of DDoS Attacks and Their Impact

DDoS attacks come in various forms, with each type posing a unique challenge to mitigation. Understanding these types is fundamental:

  1. Volumetric Attacks: These aim to flood the network and server resources, often utilizing botnets and amplification techniques.
  2. TCP/UDP Exhaustion: Attackers exhaust connection resources to make services unavailable.
  3. Application Layer Attacks: These target application vulnerabilities, overwhelming web servers and applications.
  4. Low-and-Slow Attacks: These are subtler, and designed to evade detection by slowly overloading resources.

Nginx as a Shield Against DDoS

Nginx, known for its efficiency in handling high traffic, proves an invaluable asset in mitigating DDoS attacks. Its role as a robust web server and reverse proxy allows for the management of incoming traffic, thus safeguarding against potential service disruptions.

Configuring Nginx for DDoS Protection

Utilizing Rate Limiting to Control Incoming Requests

Rate limiting involves controlling the number of incoming requests, and shielding your server against sudden surges. Let’s delve into the configuration.

Navigate to Nginx’s configuration directory:

nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

Within the file, under the HTTP block, include the following:

limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=mylimit:10m rate=10r/s;
server {
    location / {
        limit_req zone=mylimit burst=20 nodelay;

This snippet establishes a zone called ‘mylimit’ that allows 10 requests per second with a burst of 20 requests without delay.

Implementing Access Control Lists (ACLs)

ACLs are paramount for whitelisting and blacklisting IPs, fortifying your server against potentially malicious sources.

Navigate to the site configuration file:

cd /etc/nginx/sites-available/

Edit the default site configuration file:

sudo nano default

Include the following ACL block:

server {
    location / {
        deny all;

This snippet denies a specific IP (, allows a range (, and denies all other IPs.

Leveraging Nginx Buffering to Handle Sudden Traffic Spikes

Nginx buffering aids in managing sudden traffic surges by storing and serving content efficiently. Configure buffering using the following directives:

location / {
    proxy_buffering on;

Configure the buffer size and timeout values to optimize buffering:

proxy_buffer_size 128k;
proxy_buffers 4 256k;
proxy_busy_buffers_size 256k;
proxy_temp_file_write_size 256k;
proxy_read_timeout 300;

Load Balancing and DDoS Resilience

Implementing load balancing through Nginx allows for the distribution of traffic across multiple servers, alleviating the impact of DDoS attacks on a single server.

http {
    upstream backend {
        # Additional servers
    server {
        location / {
            proxy_pass http://backend;
            # Additional configurations

Additional Security Measures

Web Application Firewall (WAF) Integration

Integrating a WAF alongside Nginx further fortifies your defense. Popular WAFs like ModSecurity add an extra layer of security.

Regular Updates and Maintenance

Continuously update and fine-tune configurations to stay ahead of evolving threats. Regular maintenance is key to a robust defense.

Stress Testing and Validation

Using Stress-Testing Tools to Simulate DDoS Scenarios

To test your Nginx configuration against potential DDoS attacks, consider using tools like Apache Bench (ab) or Siege. For instance, you can simulate a DDoS attack with Apache Bench by running:

ab -n 10000 -c 100

Monitoring Nginx Logs for Suspicious Activities

Nginx logs are your eyes and ears in detecting suspicious activities. Access the logs:

sudo tail -f /var/log/nginx/access.log


Mitigating DDoS attacks is an ongoing process that requires vigilance and adaptability. By understanding the threat landscape, configuring Nginx effectively, and implementing best practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these disruptive attacks. Stay proactive in monitoring and adjusting your security measures to ensure the resilience of your web services in an ever-evolving online world. Protecting your infrastructure is an investment in the long-term success and reliability of your online presence.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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