Most of the stories you see about DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks focus on the major business, financial and government sites which have come under siege by hackers, who take advantage of the relative ease and low expense of DDoSing a website to launch attacks for profit or publicity.
However, another major type of organization is a growing target for these hackers: independent news sites, which run the risk of attack by groups or individuals upset with the news outlets’ reporting. Just this year, a number of Swedish news sites were attacked by an anonymous hacker because of alleged “false propaganda.” And on New Year’s Eve, the BBC’s websites were taken down by a DDoS attack by a group calling itself “New World Hacking” which somewhat-bizarrely claimed to be taking down “ISIS-affiliated websites” and also DDoS’d the Donald Trump website the same day.
Many news organizations don’t have the budget to invest in comprehensive DDoS protection. Google has come to their aid.
For several years, Google has allowed smaller sites that deal with controversial topics like election rights violations and human rights to take advantage of the company’s technology to guard against DDoS attacks, in a program called “Project Shield.” Those types of sites would provide easy targets for those who oppose the points of view espoused by the articles published online.
Now, the search engine giant has offered larger, general news sites the same opportunity to use Google’s huge infrastructure to avoid being taken down by a DDoS. There’s apparently a fine line as far as who is eligible, though; the company says that sites with all viewpoints will be accepted, as long as the websites sites don’t have a “political agenda.” Google didn’t clarify exactly what that means, but it will undoubtedly become clear as politically-oriented sites apply for Project Shield.
In order to participate, a news site would use Google’s name servers instead of the ones associated with their own servers; traffic is then routed through a reverse proxy system so that the company can filter out any malicious traffic before it reaches the news website. Google won’t say exactly how that system works, though, since they don’t want to give hackers any clues to possible areas of vulnerability.
Protection With a Price
There is a price to Google’s largess, though – not an economic price, but a privacy one. In return for access to Project Shield, the news sites have to allow Google to monitor and store their visitor logs. Google says that’s simply to help them serve “better” search results for users, and to help their research into DDoS protection and attacks. It insists that the overall goal is ensuring that controversial information can stay online. The company says no data will be used for advertising or marketing purposes, although some would say that the Google search engine is its largest marketing vehicle, and that some privacy concerns about the Internet behemoth have been proven correct in the past.
Companies that are concerned about privacy can look into free 2 Gbps DDoS Protection that come with dedicated servers provided by Psychz Networks. Depending on the nature of the business, Psychz can up the free option to 10 Gbps of free protection. Each news website will have to make its own decision on whether giving Google access to their user data is worth the DDoS protection they can receive through Project Shield. For most news organizations, that could be a very difficult decision.