Google offers DDoS defenses to human rights, elections websites

'Project Shield' also includes Google's PageSpeed Service, which improves website response times

Google is lending its vast infrastructure to websites that may be targeted by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks because of their content.

The program, called "Project Shield," is invite-only and accepting applications from websites dealing with news, human rights or election-related content.

Those accepted will benefit from Google's DDoS defenses, which help repel barrages of traffic designed to cause websites to stop responding.

DDoS attacks are an effective, low-cost way to disrupt companies and organizations. The attacks are difficult to counter even for well-resourced organizations that can afford separate security services specializing in DDoS mitigation.

Small independent sites are particularly at risk since a small flood of traffic can push them offline, Google said, but its infrastructure can handle the largest attacks.

Google is also offering access to PageSpeed Service, which optimizes websites and hosts copies of sites on Google's infrastructure for faster loading.

PageSpeed is free so far, but Google does plan to charge for it. Project Shield participants may eventually have to pay but will be given 30 days notice, Google said.

"We're hoping to offer the service to charities and non-profits at a reduced fee or at no cost in the future, but this is still under development," according to Project Shield's page.

A current affairs discussion site dedicated to Iran, Balatarin.com, is blocked in the country and frequently comes under attack, said its founder Mehdi Yahyanejad in a video.

Since using Google's services, Balatarin.com has "stayed up during the times that it has come under attack, especially on the days that something important is happening in Iran," he said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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