An Introduction to Cloudflare (And Why Your Website Needs It)
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An Introduction to Cloudflare (And Why Your Website Needs It)

Bonus Material: WordPress Performance eBook

Security is vital to your site’s overall health. While tools like backup plugins can be beneficial, they won’t protect you from external threats. Fortunately, you can keep malicious actors at bay with Cloudflare on your side.

In this article, we’ll introduce Cloudflare and show you three ways that this software can benefit your website. We’ll also explore what an A record is and what you can expect from one. Let’s dive right in!

What Is Cloudflare?

Cloudflare is a cutting-edge security company that offers a wide range of digital safety services, including protection against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks and a Web Application Firewall (WAF). It also provides an extremely fast Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Cloudflare logo

Cloudflare offers a variety of pricing plans. You can use the free services if you’re on a tight budget. Alternatively, you might want to invest in one of the subscription plans. These start at $20 per month and include more features as they scale up.

With over 25 million internet properties under its protection, Cloudflare is a tried-and-true way to secure your site. It’s so effective that some hosting providers even integrate with Cloudflare, presenting customers with an all-in-one safety solution to complement essential site maintenance.

How Can Cloudflare Benefit Your Website?

Cloudflare is an impressively multi-faceted security tool. Here are the top three ways that using its service can improve your website.

1. It Boosts Your Site’s Performance

Cloudflare can improve your site’s performance. Thanks to its robust Content Delivery Network (CDN) capabilities, you can take your pages’ speed to the next level

A CDN is a group of servers that have been carefully selected from around the world. This network detects where a visitor is accessing the site from. The user is then provided with the requested web assets from the server closest to them, resulting in the visitor getting the fastest possible loading times. 

Therefore, a CDN is particularly useful for sites with an international audience. You can rest assured that users from anywhere will be able to access your site from the most convenient locations.

This quick-loading feature can also boost your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Speed is one of the many factors that Google looks for when ranking a page. As such, improving your loading times can increase your content’s reach.

Of course, speed isn’t the only benefit. A CDN can make your site available 100 percent of the time. If one server goes down, another can pick up the load until repairs have been made. The same applies to traffic spikes. You won’t have to worry about any of these glitches turning customers away.

2. It Protects Against Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

A DDoS attack is when malicious actors send floods of illegitimate web traffic to your server. Unable to keep up with all the requests, your actual users are denied service. Unfortunately, there’s been a recent staggering spike in DDoS attacks.

Here’s a helpful illustration from Cloudflare comparing this security issue to traffic jams:

traffic jam diagram

The blue cars are your regular users, and the orange ones are malicious bots. If your visitors are trying to get somewhere and someone sends hundreds of cars to the same place, it’ll take them much longer to arrive. This can result in a huge disruption for your website.

If users can’t access your site, you lose conversions. This traffic can also crash your site completely. Getting it back online may take too much time and too many resources, and that’s not even accounting for lost profits while you’re offline. 

Cloudflare can prevent this issue. Because the company has a huge network capacity of 67 Tbps, smaller DDoS attacks simply can’t overwhelm the system or are foiled by Cloudflare’s caching strategy. 

As for larger attacks, Cloudflare automatically tracks and mitigates them. You can view these reports right from your Firewall analytics dashboard. Therefore, Cloudflare can disarm DDoS attacks of any size.

3. It Blocks Malicious Traffic

Unfortunately, a DDoS attack isn’t the only way hackers can get you. There is a range of malicious attacks that can harm your site. Fortunately, Cloudflare can protect against many of them through the use of its Web Application Firewall (WAF):

Cloudflare WAF diagram

The WAF works by providing you with a powerful yet easy-to-use dashboard. You can then build your own rules based on what your site needs. Every time a request comes through to your page, the WAF will check those rules before allowing it to proceed.

Suspicious requests can be blocked or paused. Additionally, you can choose to keep a record of these hacking attempts. That can help you analyze where malicious traffic is coming from and take steps to further protect your site.

The WAF also has specialized techniques for individual attacks. You can consider Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) as an example. XSS is when malicious actors inject harmful code into your website. This can steal your data, crash your site, and even negatively affect your users.

You can prevent these attacks with the flip of a switch. Cloudflare’s WAF comes with a core rule set that you can enable to keep your site safe. Developers have configured the ruleset to protect against the latest malicious tactics. Additionally, these rules are continuously updated to stay ahead of hackers.

What to Expect from the Upcoming A Record Change

A Domain Name System (DNS) is the technology that takes the domain name of your site and translates it into data that your computer can load. An Address Record – or A Record for short – is the most fundamental type of DNS record.

A Records are commonly used to look up an IP address and match it to a domain name. This process is what enables users to view the page. 

There are times when you may need to change or create an A Record (along with a TXT record to verify that you own the domain). This need typically arises if your domain name is not registered with your current host, or if you switch hosts. An accurate A Record is necessary if you want people to continue landing on your site. As such, try to keep on top of any upcoming changes.

You might also want to consider using Cloudflare’s Load Balancing feature, which spreads your traffic across multiple domains.

Conclusion

Security is often a top priority for most websites. However, understanding the best way to protect your page can be difficult. Fortunately, you can harness the power of Cloudflare to maintain your site’s safety with ease.  

Still not sure where to start? At Pronto, we can take care of all the technical details for you.

Image credits: Cloudflare


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