With Project Shield, Google (or Alphabet) is doing something truly worthwhile to enhance online security against malicious attacks. These attacks can come from naughty hackers, governments or even terrorists. What people don’t know is that targeting news sites is a frequent occurrence. And this is where Google comes in. Project Shield is basically an initiative to help news sites ward off attacks that aims to bring down their website.
Is this Google’s way of telling us they are doing their bit to protect the world from the wicked? This is why I sometimes feel ambivalent about these huge tech firms. One minute, they are are into Corporate Social Respnsibilty, and the next, they are fighting the government and protecting criminals. Like in the case of Google supporting Apple in its case against the FBI, over decrypting the iPhone of a known terrorist. I am sure their arguments are compelling. But I don’t want to know about it. The rights enjoyed by law abiding people should not be extended to criminals. That is my opinion anyway.
Back to the Google’s worthwhile Project Shield. After Google was able to successfully eliminate spam emails from our Gmail inbox, they decided to extend the same template to help eliminate or reduce Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against vulnerable websites like online news sites.
DDoS attacks are basically targeted at online news sites which come in the form of overwhelming the site with numerous traffic from multiple sources. The aim is to bring down the website if it is sustained long enough making the site unavailable to legitimate visitors. These attacks are mostly attempts to censor news, human rights, and election monitoring sites amongst others.
Here is how Project Shield explained DDoS attacks:
”DDoS attacks are often used to attempt to censor news, human rights, and elections monitoring sites, and to bring down many other types of sites. Sites that are not using a content delivery network (CDN) or a major hosting provider often do not have the capacity to defend against these attacks.”
First and foremost, the Project Shield service is free to all eligible sites. From the mission statement of the program, it is easy to determine who or what is eligible. All news websites especially those related to covering elections in troubled spots or countries; websites dedicated to exposing human rights abuses and NGOs websites that might be facing censorship for the work they are doing.
However, individual blogs, government websites, business websites and entertainment websites would not be eligible for help from Project Shield.
How to Apply
Websites or interested parties who are interested for Project Shield protection can apply online. The application forms can be found on Project shield’s website. Any successful applicant would be contacted through email by the Project Shield team. The email contains detailed information on how to configure and integrate a particular site to start enjoying the protection of Project Shield.
Of course, a webmaster with Administrative privileges for the approved website should configure it. The webmaster must be able to modify DNS records and must be able to set the service up in about 10 minutes according to Project Shield.
So how secure is the information a website passes on to Project Shield? As far as security and privacy of data are concerned, Project Shield would only use the information it gets just for preventing DDoS attacks and securely caching the site’s information so that it can be retrieved quickly when needed.
The video below tries to explain the whole Project Shield idea in just over one and a half minutes.