Nginx by examples: DOS protection
If your web server is directly exposed to internet traffic it’s always a good idea to have some sort of Denial of Service protection enabled
Nginx alone cannot protect from more complex and Distributed DOS attacks (that would require a CDN) but this is no reason for not having some basic protection in place, which is also very easy to setup.
It is a sensitive precaution to avoid too many connections from a single IP and it’s first line of defence against trivial DOS attacks (i.e. a simple script flooding our backend from 1 server with 1 IP)
limit_conn_zone $binary_remote_address zone=addr:10m; limit_conn servers 1000;
This simple snippet enforces that there can be max 1000 connections per IP at any time.
10 MB (10m) will give us enough space to store a history of 160k requests
1000 limit can be tweaked and lowered if necessary always considering that our clients may be behind proxies and many connections could hit our server from very few IPs
Rate limiting works very similarly to connection limiting but from the perspective of how many requests per second are accepted by a single IP address
limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=one:10m rate=5r/s; limit_req zone=one burst=10; limit_req_status 503; # default value anyway
In this example:
- 5 requests/second from 1 single IP address are allowed.
- Between 5 and 10 requests/sec all new incoming requests are delayed.
- Over 10 requests/sec all new incoming requests are rejected with the status code set in
Alternatively we can add the
limit_req zone=one burst=10 nodelay;
so that between 5 and 10 req/sec all new incoming requests are served as fast as possible making
burst (10 req/sec) the hard and soft limit after which requests get refused
Bandwidth limiting is particularly useful in bandwidth restricted environments like Amazon EC2 where bandwidth exhaustion causes all traffic to virtually grind to a halt (i.e. your backend goes offline)
limit_rate 50k; limit_rate_after 500k;
With Nginx we can limit the bandwidth to 50kb/sec only after the first 500kb have been served so that the web server selectively slows down requests for big payloads while allowing other requests at full speed
Last but not the least caching is the single most effective way to add resiliency to your app by leveraging the super optimized caching layer Nginx offers which can easily serve thousands of req/sec for small payloads
If you haven’t setup caching yet, you should.