What Are Security Threats Mitigated by An Upstream ISP?


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Contrary to popular belief information is exchanged through physical channels, these days it is transmitted through the internet and stored over cloud storage devices. Every aspect of both professional and personal life has been drastically affected by our ability to access information or add to the existing data. The end result is the formation of a never-ending, billion-faceted orb that connects everyone around the globe with everyone. The benefits of accessing information at your fingertips come with a cost. The year 2020 may go down in history not only as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic but also as the year of cyberattacks. How secure and malware-resistant your network is depending mainly on the integrity of your internet service provider (ISP).

Types of Internet Speeds

There are two main types of ISPs

  • Downstream
  • Upstream


Downstream is commonly used in homes and domestic settings. The modems are referred to as ADSL and are asymmetric in structure. It means the downloads and uploads on this network do not yield the same speed. The download speeds are much faster and uploads are slower in that comparison.

Since the end-user data cannot return to the core in the form of uploads quickly, the system cannot deal with and mitigate threats in a proactive manner. So, the network in ADSL or downstream ISP remains vulnerable to sophisticated data malware and phishing attacks.


In this network setting, data can be uploaded from user to server as easily as the other way around. It is mainly used by businesses, especially software houses and large corporations, who deal with large quantities of data each day.

Technically referred to as an SDSL and T1, upstream ISP settings are symmetric in cases of both uploads and downloads. In many cases, the large upstream ISP provides internet to local ISPs which in turn distribute data caps among different users. The smooth transition of data from server to user and vice versa ensures the system is updated on the security front. Modern servers are furnished with threat detection and mitigation networks. What makes upstream ISPs superior in this regard is to collect information from end-users quickly and then react in case of a threat or a cyberattack.

Common Security Threats Mitigated by Upstream ISPs

These are the common security threats that are dealt with by upstream ISPs:

  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS)
  • Lost productivity
  • Firewall configuration error
  • Unauthorized remote access

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)

Denial of Service (DoS) is an attack that denies access to legitimate users to the network. It is accomplished by either sending too much traffic to the network that it may cause a crash or sending a code that does the job. Common targets of such attacks are government organizations and large corporations.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is a little bit different from DoS. In this type of attack, multiple systems join forces to attack a network simultaneously.

These are some points that can clearly throw light on the severity of DDoS attacks:

  • It is hard to detect the point of attack on the network because they are multiple and sporadic.
  • The attack is disruptive because a bulk of machines is engaged in threat detection and resolution thus leaving much of it vulnerable.
  • The identity of attackers is hard to determine as they are safe behind many layers of a compromised system.
  • Even on the physical level, it is not easy to shut down a system by merely flipping a switch. Thus, DDoS attacks often succeed in its objectives.

Modern security infrastructure has adapted to mitigate these threats, but DDoS is unique in its character and strategy so it is always a challenge for organizations to deal with it in a timely fashion.

Upstream ISP helps in this by forming a bridge between systems and servers to get the latest on the attack and halt its advance.

Lost Productivity 

When dealing with a cyberattack, often networks have to go to a secure mode or even shut down altogether to secure the data collection ports. This may seem obvious but the lost productivity during a crisis can cost companies dearly.

According to studies, corporations lose around $5,600 per minute during downtime. This goes in lost productivity and can be caused by;

  • Human Error
  • Machine Failure
  • Cyberattack

In the latter case, a proactive approach can save a company all the hassle. Mostly wireless phone companies are affected by such types of attacks. Cybersecurity should be considered as a nuclear policy. It is in the place to ward off evil plans before they even begin.

Upstream ISPs are adept in detecting and dealing with cyber-attacks thus ensuring no loss in productivity.

Firewall Configuration Error

A firewall is the first and often the last line of defense in many networks. As the name indicates, it keeps malicious intruders away from your systems.

Here are some common firewall configuration errors to look out for in order to strengthen your system security:

  • No Firewall Rules
  • No Update Schedule
  • Manual Vs Automatic Updates
  • Security Logging
  • Inconsistent Authentication Requirements

Upstream ISPs can do so much for your system network. It can mitigate firewall configuration error to some extent but you need to erect a solid system in place for better security.

Unauthorized Remote Access

Unauthorized Remote Access refers to when someone outside the legitimate circle of users gets access to the system or server. This is a serious breach to the respective unit and causes unrest even at the slightest chance and damage if persisted.

One of the ways Upstream ISPs deny unauthorized remote access is by locking the proximity of legitimate users. This way, even when someone from the legitimate circle tries to access the network from another location, it will not give access.

Upstream ISPs are more robust and superior to the conventional run-of-the-mill downstream ISPs. But they are commonly used in large data centers to ensure consistent download and upload speeds as well as security of the system.

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By Sidharth

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