BUSINESS is lively for firms that help foil DDoS attacks. Stuart Scholly of Prolexic numbers “chocolatiers, battery-makers and health spas” among his clients. CloudFlare, a competitor, offers a basic service free. Its 1m-odd customers are growing by 5,000 daily. These have included the Israeli Defence Force, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Eurovision Song Contest. “Philosophically, we’re Switzerland,” says its co-founder, Matthew Prince.
Attaching machines to a website’s servers can block traffic from disreputable internet addresses, but let genuine users through. Statistical analysis of past attacks helps detect assaults and adjust filters. But big data floods can overwhelm even these appliances. Another option is using the “cloud” (big arrays of third-party computers). These redirect traffic through powerful “scrubbing centres”.
Computer says no
- Denying the deniers
- Faces of the future
Politicians squabble about the role of governments. Some think big firms should buy commercial protection. Others think cyber-police should secure the pipes—like those who already keep roads, skies and borders safe.
Yet making targets more resilient only partly solves the problem. Stemming the source of bogus traffic matters, too. Network administrators need to do more to prevent troublemakers from hijacking their hardware, quickly detecting when a botnet has enslaved their computers, and fixing DNS servers when their inherent flaws are exploited. Mike Smith at Akamai, a networking firm, likens this to a “public health” problem: an insecure network is “Typhoid Mary”.
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