Google just saved the journalist who was hit by a 'record' cyberattack

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 traffic 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 journalists.”

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 organisations, 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 it’s too late,” Krebs wrote. “And I’m deeply grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of support and solidarity that I’ve seen and heard from so many readers over the past few days. Thank you.”

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