Protecting Latin American journalists and publishers from digital attacks

The digital revolution has had tremendous benefits for the world’s news, bringing new information and different points of view to more people than ever before. But a type of digital attack is threatening news organizations around the world, especially in Latin America.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are simple and inexpensive to carry out, and they can be launched by almost anyone with access to a computer. DDoS attacks are a type of digital attack that work by overwhelming servers with traffic in order to take a website offline. News organizations are particularly vulnerable to these types of attacks. In fact, DDoS attacks have become a common tool for censoring news organizations: According to a Newscycle Solutions’ report, about 50% of news sites have been attacked at some point, and once a site has been attacked, there’s an 80% chance of it being attacked again.

A massive DDoS attack on banks in Indonesia that was captured by Digital Attack Map on October 12th:

Our Digital Attack Map visualizes the most powerful DDoS attacks happening in the world right now using data from our partners at Arbor Networks. DDoS attacks often relate directly to events in the real world such as conflicts or political disputes, and the Digital Attack Map helps to make sense of this growing threat.

A few years ago Jigsaw, an incubator within Alphabet, launched Project Shield, a free service that uses Google technology and Google’s infrastructure to protect news sites from distributed denial of service attacks. In February, we announced that Project Shield would be available to news sites, human rights organizations, and election monitoring sites around the world for free. Our goal is not only to defend sites from DDoS attacks, but to eliminate DDoS as a form of censorship.

Earlier this month we announced a partnership with the Inter American Press Association to ensure that all IAPA member organizations are protected from DDoS attacks. Project Shield is free for all eligible organizations, so even the smallest independent news organizations will be able to continue their important work without the fear of being shut down by malicious attacks.

Project Shield is not just about protecting journalism. It’s about improving the health of the Internet by mitigating against a significant threat to free expression. A free and open Internet depends on protecting the free flow of information — starting with the news.

Visit Project Shield’s website to learn more about how the technology works. For news organizations, human rights groups, and election monitoring sites, you can protect your site by applying for Project Shield here.

George Conard, Product Manager at Jigsaw

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