- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security has given an Oregon-based tech company $1.7 million to protect its network from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, an easy-to-administer type of cyber-assault that’s been used by hackers to cripple entire systems and servers.

Galois of Portland announced on Monday this week that the federal government has contracted the company to develop technology capable of countering DDoS attempts — elementary but often successful cyberattacks in which hackers cause a computer system to collapse by subjecting it to a sudden surge in traffic.

Individuals ranging from politically-motivated hacktivists to state-sponsored cyberwarriors have relied on DDoS attacks to take entire systems offline. And yet while the lasting effects may be minimal, downtime suffered by the likes of a major financial institution — or, as Galois’ contract suggests, a government agency — may cause immeasurable damages.

In a statement, Galois said it’s designed a peer-to-peer collaboration mechanism in which organizations are able to work together in order to detect and mitigate DDoS attacks that might otherwise be too much to handle.

“Current DDoS defense systems are proving ineffective because they operate in isolation, which introduces delays in the detection, reporting, and response to a DDoS attack,” said Adam Wick, the research lead for the company’s mobile security and systems software division. “This delay is critical. It provides positive feedback to the attacker, who will continue to send more and more traffic at the target network. Our solution advances the state of DDoS defense by providing new tools that allow multiple defenders to coordinate their response, resulting in earlier detection and faster DDoS mitigation.”

Through its peer-to-peer technology, Galois said it’s capable of cutting response time in half and reducing traffic surges spawned by DDoS attacks by upwards of 90 percent — or enough to significantly halt a hack that could otherwise have colossal consequences.

Britain’s National Crime Agency reported last year that 30 percent of U.K. businesses claimed to have been hit with DDoS attack in recent months, and more recently cyber experts said that the hackers who took down the Ukrainian power grid in December waged their assault in tandem with a DDoS attack on the utility’s customer service center which in turn kept clients from reporting the outages.

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