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Google announces Project Shield to defend websites against DDoS

Google has announced what it is calling Project Shield, a new initiative to help small websites ward off DDoS attacks by routing traffic through its own system.

Google Ideas has announced what it is calling Project Shield, a new initiative to help small websites ward off distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by routing content through its own system.

Digital Attack Map created by Google and Arbor Networks.
(Credit: Google/Arbor Networks)

DDoS attacks can be pretty vicious affairs and hard to defend against. Used as a method of silencing, or punishing, entities, they use a flood of external traffic requests from a number of host computers to overload a website's server and bring the site crashing down.

Google Ideas wants to promote freedom of expression by protecting smaller entities against DDoS attacks. It has announced a new initiative called Project Shield, currently free of charge, which aims to help those without the resources or defensive infrastructure of big business or government.

The service will work by routing website content via Google's infrastructure, without having to change hosts. It uses Google's Page Speed Service, which Google describes as "an online service to automatically speed up loading of your web pages. PageSpeed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying web performance best practices and serves them to end users via Google's servers across the globe".

Project Shield is currently by invitation only, but Google is seeking applications from "trusted testers" to help iron out any kinks in the software. Big business need not apply; Google states, "We are accepting applications from websites serving news, human rights or elections-related content."

Google Ideas has also teamed up with Arbor Networks, a DDoS protection solutions provider, to launch a live data visualisation of global DDoS attacks. The Digital Attack Map uses data from Arbor Networks' Active Threat Level Analysis System (ATLAS) to show the number, type and severity of attack on any given day.

"We hope this tool allows more people to understand the challenges posed by DDoS attacks," Google said. "We also hope it triggers a dialogue about how we can work together to reduce the threat of DDoS Attacks, improving the internet for everyone."

You can find out more about and apply for Project Shield here.