Google has announced its latest venture in the fight against cyber terrorism; Project Shield.
Unveiled during the Google Ideas Summit in New York on Monday, the project is an initiative that uses Google’s own infrastructure to “protect free expression online”.
This involves websites serving their online content through a Google-monitored delivery network, without changing their own hosting locations, in order to protect their site from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
A DDoS attack involves multiple systems and connections flooding a website’s bandwidth with more traffic than the server can handle. When this happens, the server cannot accept any new connections, and the site can crash.
DDoS attacks have been notoriously difficult to defend against in the past, particularly for smaller websites. It is much harder to track down multiple sources, and each source will no doubt have a different behaviour mechanism.
Project Shield looks to resolve these problems using Google’s own DDoS mitigation capabilities, combined with its Page Speed Service (PSS). The system will wrap websites in a protective “shield” and fend off any suspicious traffic.
Scott Carpenter, Deputy Director of Google Ideas, said of Project Shield: “There are so many organisations that need this sort of protection. They are very small, they are very easy to knock offline.”
Project Shield is currently in the beta stage, with Google inviting “trusted testers” to try out the service. This invitation has been sent to webmasters of what Google calls “sensitive websites”, such as those relating to independent news services, human rights activists and those covering elections.
Although the service is currently being offered for free, Google has warned that it could involve a pricing structure in future. This will no doubt come into play if Project Shield becomes a success and is offered to more webmasters.