Akamai Grows Its Security Business in Wake of Cyberattacks
Akamai, a company better known for speeding up websites through its distributed computing platform, is growing its Web security business. The company says some banks are now turning to Akamai to defend against the type of cyber attacks that hit U.S. bank websites in October.
Tom Leighton, chief scientist and co-founder of Akamai, told CIO Journal that attacks on customers have surged from one big attack a month in 2009 to several big attacks per day.
U.S. officials have blamed Iranian hackers for a string of attacks that targeted Capital One Financial Corp., BBT Corp and at least nine other banks. These attacks are so-called distributed denial of service attacks where a large number of computers try to flood the targeted domain with traffic in an attempt to disrupt operations.
But Akamai is helping companies stop that malicious traffic closer to where it originates. The company operates 105,000 servers in 78 countries and partners with Internet and network service providers. Those servers were initially installed to help speed the delivery of Web content to consumers. But the placement of those servers also means that Akamai can act as a buffer between the Web site and the attacker. When in-bound traffic starts making unusual demands on a particular website, Akamai services help customers stop the attack closer to the source. For example, a company can set parameters for normal traffic to its website and Akamai can issue alerts or automatically block all suspicious traffic.
For years, online retailers, media companies and others have worked with Akamai to help with security. Banks, however, have been slower to use Akamai because they wanted to keep control of all aspects of security in-house, said Leighton. Now, with the latest wave of attacks, Akamai has found more banks knocking on its door for help.