How ‘Project Shield’ can help you against DDOS attacks online

Post by Dani D Picture of Dani D
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We know it’s no fake news to hear that the world's humanitarian, news and information websites are under attack at a higher rate than ever. 

61% of large UK businesses and 52% of high-income UK charities identified cyber security breaches/attack during 2018.

Usually politically motivated, hackers use a ‘DDoS’ attack method to overload the site with visitors, inevitably preventing access to the site.

Google’s ‘Project Shield’ software is freely available software that can monitor the traffic to a website for any unusual activity such as an overload of visitors to the site at one time. 

What are these attacks? 

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service: a type of cyberattack that tries to make a website or network resource unavailable. The attacker coordinates the use of hundreds or sometimes even thousands of devices across the internet to send an overwhelming amount of unwanted traffic to the company’s website or network in hope to prevent access to the site from legitimate users. 

An attack can cause downtime for minutes, hours or days – and prevent potential customers users from buying products, using a service, or getting information from the target.

Google has created the ‘Project Shield’ software, with Jigsaw, to come up with a solution to this problem to prevent these attacks from taking place. It’s quick and easy to set up, a wonderful case of "install and forget".

colourful CCTV camera by Andres Umana

What is Project Shield?

Project Shield servers receive traffic requests on your website's behalf, then sends only the safe traffic through to your website's server. This protects your site against the disruption caused through Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in two ways:

  • It filters harmful traffic. Project Shield filters out potentially disruptive or harmful traffic using Google’s technology tools. If someone tries to take your website down with this kind of attack, Project Shield can identify and block the incoming traffic so your website stays up and running.
  • It absorbs traffic through caching. Project Shield can save a version of your content for website visitors. This reduces traffic requests to your website server and absorbs potential DDoS attacks. 

In short, Project Shield is a reverse proxy that filters through the possible overload of visitors to a site and blocks the harmful traffic that could be trying to access the website. 

A simple, inexpensive distributed denial of service attack can be carried out by almost anyone with access to a computer — and take a site completely offline before its owners even know they’ve been attacked.....
Jared Cohen - Jigsaw
Jared Cohen
CEO - Jigsaw

Using Project Shield...

These “distributed denial of service” attacks are a big problem for the media  – notable victims include the BBC and Gawker, but also many news sites in places like Nigeria, particularly around election time. Google is helping to protect these victims and the sanctity of freedom of speech! 

There are a few things you need to have to qualify for Project Shield protection on your website. First of all, you must have a Google Account set up and manage a website in one of these areas: 

  • Human rights
  • Election information or monitoring
  • Political organisation of a certain country
  • News
  • Journalism

Google claims that Shield can be set up by an admin in ten minutes as long as they have a Google account. After you’ve been approved in the following areas, you can access the programme!

It takes just three steps when adding Project Shield you need the following information….

  • The origin address
  • SSL Certification (if applicable) 
  • The domain and subdomains to be protected

Once the site has been created, your DNS records will need to be pointed at Project Shield, instead of your web server.

... These attacks threaten free expression and access to information — two of Google’s core values.
Jared Cohen - Jigsaw
Jared Cohen
CEO - Jigsaw




Here’s how we summed up the pros and cons:

The service is free and is a reliable source to protect your site. It’s only available to a certain sector of websites but protects the content that can be really important such as political and humanitarian sites. Google strongly believes in freedom of speech and protects this with passion. 

There’s no denying the fact that the protection isn’t useful, the reviews for the site are outstanding:

GATOR country and GEO4NONPRO quotes

As with anything, there are alternatives to this. Google wasn’t the first to come up with the DDoS defence, nor will it be the last: Cloudflare Spectrum, Akamai and I’m sure many more have similar sites with similar intentions to protect sites from these kinds of attacks.

They all have different spectrums of use that will fit different businesses, so it’s a case of having a look through and finding what works best for your website!

Give us a call to discuss your DDoS protection options.

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