What is a Secure CDN and How Does it Work?

  • Katrin Graewe
  • September 10, 2021


What is a Secure CDN and How Does it Work?

In recent years, there’s been plenty of hype surrounding CDNs. Once the exclusive domain of huge digital service providers like Facebook, Google, and Netflix, CDNs are now available to any organization (or even individual) that wants one.

However, there are several misconceptions about what CDNs are, what they do, and the difference between the CDNs available on the market.

What is a CDN?

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, a geographically distributed group of servers that place website content geographically as close as possible to the end user. The objective is to improve website content loading times for each visitor by reducing the time needed for communications to travel between the visitor’s device and the server.

The concept is straightforward. Although data moves very quickly, it is still constrained by distance—it’s faster to load a website hosted in your city than a website hosted on the other side of the world. The image below shows each of the distributed servers included in Link11’s CDN, which ensures users worldwide can access online content in a matter of milliseconds.

By employing a CDN, organizations can ensure the rapid transfer of all data and content needed for users to load web pages and applications, including HTML, javascript, CSS, images, videos, and audio.

Why Use a CDN?

When they think of a CDN, most people focus on the additional speed it can provide a website. That is a huge benefit and perhaps the most common reason why organizations initially consider using a CDN.

However, CDNs provide four major benefits, all of which are essential for business websites:

#1: Improve website load times. Hosting content closer to the user ensures faster page load times. This has an obvious benefit for the user, but also two substantial benefits for the website owner:

  1. More people are inclined to ‘click away’ from slow loading websites, reducing traffic. This increases the website’s ‘bounce rate.’
  2. Search engines penalize websites that load slowly—partly due to the higher ‘bounce rate,’ but there is also a direct penalty that causes slow websites to rank lower in search results.

#2: Reduce bandwidth costs. Paying for the bandwidth needed to serve users is typically the single highest cost of running a website. For very large websites, the cost can be extremely high. By caching website content at each distributed server, a CDN limits the amount of data transfer required to run the website, reducing bandwidth costs.

#3: Higher availability. From excessive traffic to server failures, plenty of events can disrupt website uptime. CDNs use distributed servers with redundancy built-in, enabling a website to handle much more traffic than it usually could while maintaining close to 100% uptime—even in the event of a server failure.

#4: Stronger security. Enterprise-grade CDNs offer a host of security capabilities, from DDoS prevention to on-page improvements. As a result, websites hosted by these networks are more resilient to criminal activity.

Of course, the real answer to why organizations use a CDN is usually quite simple: cost.

Take an e-commerce business as an example. Think about how much each of the following situations could cost the business:

  1. An unknown number of users click away from the site due to poor loading times.
  2. Search engines penalize the website for poor performance, ranking it lower in search results.
  3. An unexpected flood of traffic causes a server to go offline, preventing an unknown number of buyers from reaching the website.

For a business that bases its entire trade on website traffic, any of these situations could cost thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in lost revenue. And that’s just one example. Any organization that relies on website traffic—either directly or indirectly—for revenue, exposure, or any other critical business need has a huge incentive to use a CDN rather than relying purely on a static web host.

What Makes CDNs Faster than a Normal Website?

As already noted, the global distribution of CDN servers brings online content closer to the end user, which naturally reduces load time. However, this isn’t the only way that modern CDNs improve website speed.

Modern CDNs optimize the hardware and software involved in delivering online content in several ways. Most importantly, they use load balancing techniques to distribute processing tasks across the available computing resources. This improves efficiency, optimizes response times, and avoids the danger of overloading individual resources—particularly during periods of heavy traffic.

CDNs can also reduce the amount of data transferred to each visitor by dynamically reducing the size of files to be sent. As you’d imagine, the smaller the files, the faster the web page or application will load. This process is invisible to the end user, except in the speed with which their content loads.

What Makes a Secure CDN?

When CDNs first came onto the scene, they aimed purely to improve load times and availability for static web pages. After a while, they began to focus more on delivering streaming video and audio content and online media services like Netflix. However, the most powerful CDNs now include a much wider range of services and solutions to address the needs of modern organizations.

Some of the most common security capabilities of an enterprise CDN include:

Securing HTTPS websites with updated TLS/SSL certificates. This ensures an unbroken standard of authentication, encryption, and integrity, protecting both the organization and website visitors from several common security vulnerabilities.

Edge protection. A CDN sits between an organization’s web servers and outside users. This makes CDNs ideal for preventing known security threats before they reach an organization’s assets. A common way to do this is by using proxy rules to prevent common cyberattack techniques such as request smuggling.

DDoS mitigation. Due to the CDN’s position at the network edge, it is ideally placed to intercept DDoS attacks before they disrupt internal assets. Enterprise-ready CDNs protect organizations from DDoS by identifying malicious bot traffic within seconds and rerouting it away from the target organization.

Protect Your Online Presence with Secure CDN

While many solution providers offer pure-play CDNs, Link11 provides the industry’s leading Secure CDN.

Secure CDN uses Link11’s AI/ML-driven cloud platform to identify known threats instantly and unknown threats in under 10 seconds on average. Once identified, threats are rerouted or blocked before they reach the customer’s assets, nullifying them before they even produce an alert for the organization’s security team.

In keeping with strict data protection laws in the EU and US, Secure CDN enforces a blacklist of countries where data cannot be transferred. This ensures customers can’t accidentally cause themselves to fall out of compliance by allowing data exfiltration to blacklisted countries.

Link11’s Threat Protection Shield provides 360° security for all online assets. This enables Secure CDN to:

  • Instantly block common threats like request smuggling.
  • Maintain data sovereignty and compliance.
  • Ensure worldwide availability with direct connections to important Internet exchange points.
  • Maximize cyber resilience by blocking threats outside the organization’s digital perimeter.

To find out more about Secure CDN, visit our website.

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