Google’s Expands Anti-DDos Tool For News Sites


Google is offering to protect news sites large and small from DDos attacks. It’s extending Project Shield, which was originally only for selected websites.

The free service launched a few years ago for around 100 sites which had limited tech resources but were at particular risk of such attacks, including those highlighting human rights and electoral violations.

It works by letting sites uses Google’s own domain name servers, then routing all traffic to the site via what Google calls a “reverse proxy” server with a filter for malicious traffic. Exactly how that filter works is secret because Google doesn’t want to tip off would-be DDos attackers of ways around it.

The main limitation is that Project Shield relies on the Google Cloud Platform. That means if somebody is in a country where they are successfully blocked from accessing Google Cloud Platform, they will often be unable to see the protected site while a DDos attack is ongoing.

According to Google, it won’t place any ads on sites (nor affect sites carrying ads themselves). It also says that although it collects traffic logs, it will only use these for operational reasons rather than using them for targeting advertising or enhancing its search databases.

The change means the service will be available to any independent news site, which it defines as not being controlled by a government or political party. It will assess applications individually, but as far as “news site vs blog” goes, the guiding principle is that the service is open to sites that would meet the editorial standards for being included in the Google News search tool.

While the protection is aimed more at smaller, underresourced news sites, DDos has been a problem even for some major sites, including a recent case where the entire BBC site was knocked offline for a couple of hours. Ironically it later emerged that may have been the result of a would-be hacktivist who planned to use DDos against the so-called Islamic State group, used the BBC site to test their abilities and turned out to be far more successful than planned.

Questioned by Wired, Google said there was no profit motive with the service. Instead it argues that it’s worth using Google’s resources to help keep one of the most important elements of the web working and reduce the likelihood of people finding a relevant link to a news site but failing to get to the page in question.

[Project Shield]

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