Put simply, Cloudflare is awesome. They have a robust free offering. If you have a website, regardless of how small your website is, there is absolutely no reason not to use it. There is no excuse not to have Cloudflare out in front of your website in 2023.
6 Reasons To Use Cloudflare For Your Website
- Improved Website Performance: Cloudflare’s content delivery network (CDN) helps to speed up the delivery of your website’s content by caching it across its global network of servers. This reduces the load on your web server, resulting in faster page load times and improved performance.
- DDoS Protection: Cloudflare’s security features protect your website from DDoS attacks, which can overwhelm your server with traffic and bring your site down. With Cloudflare, your website is protected by a powerful network of servers that can absorb truly absurd amounts of traffic and mitigate attacks.If you want to learn more, check out our blog post about how Cloudflare blocked the largest DDoS attack in recent history.
- SSL Encryption: Cloudflare provides free SSL encryption for your website, ensuring that your visitors’ data is protected and search engines and users trust your site. You don’t need to spend money on 3rd party certificates if you have Cloudflare in front of your website.
- Bot Management: Cloudflare can help you identify and block malicious bots that could be scraping your content, stealing your data, or engaging in other malicious activities.
- Firewall Protection: Cloudflare’s web application firewall (WAF) protects your website from vulnerabilities like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.
- Analytics: Cloudflare provides detailed analytics on your website’s traffic and performance, helping you identify improvement areas and optimize your site for better results.
How Does Cloudflare Work?
Cloudflare’s network is one of the largest in the world, with more than 200 data centers located in over 100 countries. This global network enables Cloudflare to provide its customers with fast and reliable content delivery and protection against various types of cyber attacks.
Cloudflare’s network also includes more than 35 Tbps (Terabits per second) of network capacity, which allows it to handle massive amounts of traffic without slowing down or experiencing downtime. This capacity is distributed across the network so that no single data center is overloaded.
Cloudflare has a massive amount of capacity in the network and in sheer scale. Imagine that your website is under attack – say a denial of service, for instance – the network is like a huge wall that is the size of a planet with the thickness of an equally-sized planet. If you were to fire a rocket into this metaphorical wall, it wouldn’t go through. It would be like throwing a head of lettuce at an approaching tank. Trying to DDoS a website that is properly protected by Cloudflare is a fool’s errand.
Using DNS, you alter the path of traffic coming into your website to pass through Cloudflare first, wherein Cloudflare inspects the traffic, evaluates whether this is an attack, or bot traffic, or something else malicious – then it goes to your web server, pulls the web page request made by the end user, then serves it through its global network. As a bonus, this request is cached, so when someone else requests that same page, it is served from Cloudflare’s network, which will be faster than yours. You can decide how much and what is cached. You can cache everything or only certain things.
All of the previously mentioned things are free. You pay nothing.
How Do I Implement Cloudflare?
There are a few things worth noting. You can’t put Cloudflare in front of SharePoint or Exchange’s OWA. It works best for company websites, e-commerce stores, and web applications designed to sit at the edge. If you want to deploy a WAF in front of Exchange OWA or a self-hosted SharePoint instance, your best move there would be to move either of those things into Microsoft’s 365/Azure cloud or deploy a next-gen firewall like Fortinet to provide application-level protection for those ports.
Prepare your website or an e-commerce store for Cloudflare
Registrar Login Information – Ensure you have access to your DNS Registrar credentials. You will need this because we are going to change your nameservers. If you work with a web developer, they may have this information. This information should be in your possession since it handles all your critical external services, like where emails get routed to and how the rest of the internet can find your business.
Schedule Downtime – Cloudflare deployments are very straightforward, but there are instances where downtime could happen when changing nameservers, so it is advisable to do this after hours. Better to have it scheduled and not need it, than to run into trouble during production hours.
Cloudflare Deployment Instructions
- Create a Cloudflare Account: First, create a Cloudflare account by visiting the Cloudflare website and clicking on “Sign Up” in the top right corner. Follow the prompts to create your account.
- Add Your Website: Once you have a Cloudflare account, you can add your website to Cloudflare by entering your website’s URL in the “Add a Site” field on the Cloudflare dashboard. Click on “Begin Scan” to start the scanning process.
- Verify DNS Records: Cloudflare will scan your website’s DNS records to verify that you are the domain owner. Follow the instructions provided by Cloudflare to complete the verification process.
- Configure DNS Settings: Cloudflare will display your current DNS settings after verifying your DNS records. Make any necessary changes to your DNS settings to ensure they are compatible with Cloudflare’s network.
- Choose a Plan: Cloudflare offers a range of plans, including a free plan that provides essential services such as CDN, SSL, and DDoS protection. Choose the plan that best fits your needs.
- Complete Setup: Once you have completed the previous steps, Cloudflare will begin caching your website’s content and protecting it against cyber-attacks. You may need to update your website’s code to take advantage of Cloudflare’s features, such as by adding Cloudflare’s SSL certificate to your website.
This is our top recommendation when we are talking to new and existing clients, and they are looking for things they can do immediately to improve their security at the edge. There are still so many websites hosted either on-prem or at the edge that are not protected because websites are often an afterthought for a business, but in 2023, that is simply not the case anymore.