By Michael Kahn
UltraDNS introduced an Internet security shield on Tuesday that the
company said would help thwart denial of service attacks against its
customers and keep the Web available to hundreds of millions of users
The privately-held company has partnered with major U.S. Internet
service and network providers, including Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO -
news), Earthlink, and Time Warner Inc.'s America Online, to offer what
it calls the DNS Shield that gives a more secure underpinning to the
Analysts called the shield a step forward for preventing denial of
service attacks, where hackers harness thousands of "zombie" computers
to knock offline Web sites or other computer systems. The attacks
release an unrelenting data blitz that can cause huge financial losses
and wreak havoc online.
UltraDNS Chief Executive Ben Petro said the shield is essentially a
security blanket that works by creating a private network between
service providers and the key directories that identify the locations
of Web sites.
"Denial of service attacks are highly destructive and almost
impossible to build true security around," Petro said. "There is very
little in your control and the people launching them are getting
better and better."
Early denial of service attacks targeted the U.S. government or
high-profile online vendors like eBay. Over the past year, criminals
have used denial of service attacks to extort payments from online
gambling operations, banks and other businesses, or to attack
competitors, experts say.
Lydia Leong, a research director at Gartner, said the extra layer of
protection UltraDNS can offer by privatizing network protection with
its Internet service provider customers should help it compete against
rivals like Akamai Technologies Inc..
"This is a completely new thing," Leong said. "It improves UltraDNS's
position," she said.
The company's shield bolsters security for the more than 20
country-specific domain-named Web sites it administers such as .uk and
.org, offering better protection against a costly denial of service
attack or major network failure.
The extra security also extends to Web sites of its customers such as
Sharper Image Corp., Tommy Hilfiger Corp., Amazon.com and Oracle Corp.
as well as Internet users whose service providers have partnered with
The DNS Shield protects against these and other attacks by integrating
UltraDNS servers directly into the infrastructure of its Internet
This creates totally protected environments where only authenticated
user queries are answered and that eliminates the external data
blitzes that can shut down networks and Web sites, the company said.
Steve Crocker, chairman of the security and stability advisory
committee at ICANN, the group that oversees Internet domain names,
called DOS attacks the biggest threat to the Internet because almost
anybody can launch them from anyplace in the world but no easy
solutions exist to stop them.
"It is a good step forward and a good thing to do until we have a
complete solution to the denial of service problem," he said.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.