If you run or manage a business that has any kind of web presence then you probably have at least a basic understanding of denial of service attacks.

If not, here is quick look at DoS and DDoS and the difference between them:

DoS – Denial of Service attack

This means that one computer and one internet connection is used to flood a server with packets (TCP / UDP). The point of such a denial of service attack is to overload the targeted server’s bandwidth and other resources. This will make the server inaccessible to others, thereby blocking the website or whatever else is hosted there.

DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service attack

In most respects it is similar to a DoS attack but the results are much, much different. Instead of one computer and one internet connection the DDoS attack utilises many computers and many connections. The computers behind such an attack are often distributed around the whole world and will be part of what is known as a botnet. The main difference between a DDoS attack vs a DoS attack, therefore, is that the target server will be overload by hundreds or even thousands of requests in the case of the former as opposed to just one attacker in the case of the latter.

Therefore it is much, much harder for a server to withstand a DDoS attack as opposed to the simpler DoS incursion.

Such attacks can pose huge problems for businesses in terms of downtime leading to lost business in the short-term and even reputational damage should an attack render a site unavailable for any length of time.

For this reason larger businesses will usually employ the required technology to thwart the more problematic DDoS attacks that many web properties have to contend with.

But what about smaller businesses that cannot afford a solid DDoS mitigation strategy?

Previously, smaller websites could potentially be highly susceptible to DDoS attacks as the forces required to repel such attacks can be quite expensive indeed.

“Project Shield is an initiative launched by Google Ideas to use Google’s own Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack mitigation technology to protect free infrastructure online. The service allows other websites to serve their content through Google’s infrastructure without having to move their hosting location.”

For that reason some readers may be pleased to hear that Google have opened a new initiative known as Project Shield which is aimed at websites that may otherwise be vulnerable to such disruption. The project is still in its infancy and so is invite-only at the current time with Google looking only for “trusted testers.”

“Project Shield, an initiative that enables people to use Google’s technology to better protect websites that might otherwise have been taken offline by “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attacks. We’re currently inviting webmasters serving independent news, human rights, and elections-related content to apply to join our next round of trusted testers.”

Google announced the new initiative on Google+, saying:

“Over the last year, Project Shield has been successfully used by a number of trusted testers, including Balatarin, a Persian-language social and political blog, and Aymta, a website providing early-warning of scud missiles to people in Syria. Project Shield was also used to protect the election monitoring service in Kenya, which was the first time their site stayed up throughout an election cycle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmTvv8ISwPA

If you are interested in Google’s Project Shield then you can learn more at http://googleblog.blogspot.ca/2013/10/new-free-expression-tools-from-google.html.

If you have a website in one of the spheres mentioned by Google above then you can request a sign up invitation here. The service is free, for now at least, for testers.

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