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Google’s Anti-DDoS Project Shield Launches to Protect Free Speech

Google has finally launched its much touted Project Shield DDoS mitigation service, with a mission to preserve free speech by protecting news, human rights and election monitoring sites around the world.

The launch is a response to the increasing ease with which low cost attacks can be launched against websites, Jigsaw president Jared Cohen claimed in a blog post.

“These attacks threaten free expression and access to information—two of Google’s core values. So a few years ago we created Project Shield, an effort that uses Google’s security infrastructure to detect and filter attacks on news and human rights websites,” he explained.

“Now we’re expanding Project Shield beyond our trusted testers, and opening it up to all the world’s news sites to protect them from DDoS attacks and eliminate DDoS as a form of censorship.”

The project was first launched in 2013 and will apparently now be rolled out globally to tens of thousands of sites.

Project Shield uses a reverse proxy to allow participating webmasters to serve their site through Google’s cloud-based infrastructure for free, the firm explained.

This means an attacker would have to bring down the might of Google’s infrastructure to successfully DDoS a Project Shield member, although presumably it also means those in countries where the firms’ services are blocked would be left high and dry.

There’s certainly a need for such a service, however.

Over 2000 daily DDoS attacks are spotted by Arbor Networks and Verisign stats indicate that one-third of all server downtime results from such activity, according to stats cited by Google.

Kaspersky Lab principal security researcher, David Emm, claimed one in six firms worldwide suffered a DDoS attack last year.

“The problem is that today DDoS attacks can be set up cheaply and easily, from almost anyone, whether that be a competitor, a dismissed employee, socio-political protesters or just a lone wolf with a grudge,” he explained.

“In fact, although the cost to businesses from this kind of attack is on average around £291,000, the simplest DDoS attack can be acquired for only £32.30 and ordered anonymously. As a result, the volume of attacks has rapidly increased in recent years, so it’s imperative that businesses find an effective way to safeguard themselves from such attacks in 2016.”

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