Start-up Defense.Net debuts with anti-DDoS service

Start-up Defense.net makes its debut today with the aim of stopping distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks aimed by attackers against both enterprises and cloud service networks.

The Belmont, Calif.-based company is founded by its CTO, Barrett Lyon, who started another anti-DDoS company in 2003 called Prolexic Technologies. Defense.net next month will be detailing how it provides anti-DDoS mitigation as its first service is rolled out.

Defense.net, whose CEO is Chris Risley, is funded by $9.5 million from Bessemer Venture Partners.

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DDoS cyberattacks are large streams of traffic that attackers can generate often through compromised botnets of servers or desktops and that can be aimed at network and application infrastructure in order to swallow up available bandwidth or knock specific devices offline.

"The key [for anti-DDoS vendors] is scalability that outpaces the rates of the bad guys," Lyon says, noting the Defense.net anti-DDoS mitigation method is based on a cloud service without the need for an appliance.

Other anti-DDoS vendors indicate that attackers appear to be increasing the strength of DDoS attacks. Arbor Networks recently published its quarterly threat report, based on anonymous traffic data from more than 270 service providers, which indicated that almost half of the DDoS attacks it has monitored now reach speeds of over 1Gbps.

That's said to be up 13.5% from last year, while the portion of DDoS attacks over 10Gbps increased about 41% in the same period, according to Arbor. In addition, there was a doubling of the total number of attacks over 20Gbps that occurred in all of 2012.  

For his part, Lyon says he thinks the average DDoS attack is probably 16 times larger and "significantly more sophisticated than it was a year earlier."

Last fall, the websites of about a dozen U.S.-based banks were hit by massive DDoS attacks that often rendered them temporarily unavailable. Some of the attacks against banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America were so pronounced that it prompted government officials to discuss them, even pointing the finger against countries with whom the U.S. had had an adversarial relationship. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), for example, blamed Iran directly, though that country denied any involvement. Some businesses, such as the online gaming industry, openly say that fending off DDoS attacks is critical to their survival.

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Lyon says he has assembled a team of experienced DDoS mitigation specialists who have worked in that capacity for firms such as Apple, BitGravity, VeriSign, Juniper, Box.net and Prolexic. He says the technology that will soon be unveiled by Defense.net will seek to make DDoS defense a bit easier in certain ways.

Some mitigation methods create "side effects" that include "blocked users and fraud alerts to slow page loads, broken links, and stalled or timed out video streams," according to Lyon. "Some companies have had to ignore their fraud alerts when DDoS mitigation was turned on because so many of the alerts were artifacts of mitigation." In the services expected to be introduced next month, Defense.net will try to prove it can overcome any side effects of that nature.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: emessmer@nww.com

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

This story, "Start-up Defense.Net debuts with anti-DDoS service" was originally published by Network World.

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