Akamai says it can defend against Anon attacks

Largest content delivery network says it has right servers, server design, and the know-how to help sites fend off DDoS attacks.

Akamai technicians monitor the overall health of the Internet and the company's network.

Akamai managers say they could have bolstered the Web sites that buckled under attacks launched recently by Internet vigilantes.

The world's largest content delivery network says it has enough servers and the right kind of network to "mitigate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks," Neil Cohen, Akamai's senior director of product marketing told CNET. DDoS describes the practice of overwhelming a Web site with traffic so that it can't be accessed.

Some well-known sites were the targets of DDoS attacks launched by a loosely connected group of WikiLeaks supporters who call themselves Anonymous or Anon for short. The group lashed out at companies they consider to be hostile to WikiLeaks, the service responsible for publicizing an enormous amount of classified U.S. government documents. Some of those attacked were MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and Amazon.

MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal stopped processing donations made to WikiLeaks while Amazon stopped hosting WikiLeaks servers. At this point it appears that Amazon was able to withstand the attack while MasterCard and Visa's sites were inaccessible for extended periods.

Cohen said few other companies have as much experience as his with defending Web sites from this kind of threat. He said that late last month, a number of U.S. retail sites came under DDoS attack from multiple different countries. Cohen said he was unaware of who was behind it or why, but he said that Akamai helped some of the retailers withstand the onslaught of hits to their sites, which in some cases reached to 10,000 times the normal daily traffic to some of these sites. None of the sites went down, he said.

"What we did over the last decade was built out our network and we now have 80,000 servers in 70 countries," Cohen said. "We can mitigate DDoS attacks by having a server extremely close to the court rather than try to absorb the attack in one centralized location. As an attack grows in size and distributes out to more bots, we have a server near the compromised machines. As the attack gets bigger, our network scales on demand."

While there are reports that Anonymous is giving up on DDoS attacks related to the WikiLeaks case, it is unlikely that we've seen the end of them. In retaliation against the entertainment industry's antipiracy attempts, Anonymous knocked out the Web sites belonging to the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, Hustler magazine, and the U.S. Copyright Office.

A graph shows spike in page views at the Web site of an online retailer and Akamai customer during a DDoS attack launched against several U.S. Web stores from outside the U.S. Akamai said none of its customers' sites went down. Akamai