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ISP acts to stop denial of service threat

Bill Goodwin
Telecoms and internet service company Colt is rolling out technology to protect its international networks and its customers from denial of service attacks, following a spate of extortion attempts against online retailers and gambling sites.

Organised crime groups operating from the former Eastern Bloc have cost online businesses millions of pounds in lost revenue by using denial of service attacks to disable the websites of businesses that refuse to meet "ransom" demands.

Colt worked with security suppliers to develop and install filtering and monitoring technology to protect its own networks, covering 32 European cities. It plans to extend the technology to protect businesses that use its internet services.

Colt worked with security suppliers Riverhead - now part of Cisco - and Arbor Networks to develop a system, dubbed Colt IP Guardian, to detect and filter out message streams from denial of service attackers.

It has installed four Arbor Peakflow units capable of monitoring traffic flows across its 22,000km network. They are linked to five Cisco XT 5650 Guard units, which allow Colt to apply filter templates to block distributed denial of service message streams if the Arbor units detect unusual network activity.

"We have had a number of customers attacked through distributed denial of service," said Ben Johnson, data product manager at Colt. "One particular customer was an online gambling site. The attack cost it £50,000. We recognised there was a requirement for protection."

Colt said the system had mitigated the effects of attacks on its network, freeing up bandwidth for other uses. The company plans to use the same technology to offer continuous protection and protection on demand for users who fall victim to denial of service attacks.

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