Amazon just launched a free protection service which could have prevented the Census debacle

A Country Fire Service volunteer reacts as rain starts to fall near One Tree Hill in the Adelaide Hills, northeast of Adelaide on January 3, 2015. (Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images)

A distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack occurs when parties maliciously flood a computer system with enormous traffic in order to bring to bring it down. The Australian Bureau of Statistics blamed its high-profile 2016 Census online outages on the phenomenon.

In response to such incidents, Amazon Web Services today launched a free protection service available to all its customers and is now switched on by default.

Named AWS Shield Standard, the new product was revealed by Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels on stage at the company’s re:Invent conference in Las vegas.

“This will really help you protect yourselves. Even against the the largest and most sophisticated attacks we’ve seen out there,” he said.

Startups and enterprises also have the option to purchase AWS Shield Advanced, which provides extra protection including a 24×7 incident response team and insurance against cloud cost blowout, for US$3000 per month plus data transfer costs.

The cloud provider claimed that the anti-DDoS service would have “no latency impact” on any of its infrastructure.

The Census website crashed on its biggest night in August, with the ABS initially blaming overseas “hackers”. One or more DDoS attacks from undisclosed sources were later revealed to be the culprit, with ABS chief statistician David Kalisch finding fault in tech supplier IBM in his September submission to a parliamentary enquiry.

The journalist travelled to AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas as a guest of Amazon.

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