Google just stepped in with its massive server infrastructure to
run interference for journalist Brian Krebs.
Last week, Krebs’ site, Krebs On Security, was hit by a massive
distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that took it offline,
the likes of which was a “record” that was nearly double the
his host Akamai had previously seen in cyberattacks.
Now just days later, Krebs is back online behind the protection
of Google, which offers a little-known program called Project
Shield to help protect independent journalists and activists’
websites from censorship. And in the case of Krebs, the DDoS
attack was certainly that: The attempt to take his site down was
in response to his
recent reporting on a website called vDOS, a service
allegedly created by two Israeli men that would carry out
cyberattacks on behalf of paying customers.
Soon after Krebs reported on the site, the two men were arrested
and the site was taken offline.
“Why do I speak of DDoS attacks as a form of censorship?” Krebs
asks in a
post on Sunday. “Quite simply because the economics of
mitigating large-scale DDoS attacks do not bode well for
protecting the individual user, to say nothing of independent
Krebs didn’t fault Akamai for pulling the plug on his site. The
company was hosting him for free, and in the face of a massive
DDoS attack, made a business decision, since hosting had not only
interrupted Krebs site, but other paying customers.
Google offers Project Shield to independent news organizations,
along with human rights and election monitoring sites that are
frequently targeted in cyberattacks, the idea being that small
websites don’t have the money or tech to counter such an influx
of traffic. So instead of letting them be taken offline and
silenced, Project Shield keeps them online.
Since last Tuesday,
Krebs’ site had been under sustained distributed
denial-of-service, or DDoS, a crude method of flooding a website
with traffic to deny legitimate users from being able to access
it. The assault flooded Krebs’ site with more than 620 gigabits
per second of traffic.
To put it more plainly: It’s the digital equivalent of jamming a
bunch of gunk into a drain pipe. Eventually, water won’t be able
to pass through.
Now he’s back online, though it’s unclear whether he is still
under assault over at Google.
“I sincerely hope we can address this problem before itâ€™s too
late,” Krebs wrote. “And Iâ€™m deeply grateful for the overwhelming
outpouring of support and solidarity that Iâ€™ve seen and heard
from so many readers over the past few days. Thank you.”