Amazon Web Services unveils ‘Shield’ to protect sites from crippling online attacks

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A little more than a month after a massive online assault took down Reddit, Netflix, Twitter and other major online properties, cloud giant Amazon Web Services this morning unveiled a new technology to protect sites against such distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

The new tool, called AWS Shield, puts Amazon in competition with Cloudflare and other companies that offer protections from DDoS attacks.

Shield was announced at the company’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this morning. It comes in two levels, one called AWS Shield Standard with basic integrated DDoS protection, which will be turned on by default for AWS customers, and a premium version called AWS Shield Advanced for more sophisticated and targeted online attacks.

“I think this will really help you protect yourselves even against the largest and most sophisticated attacks that we’ve seen out there,” said Werner Vogels, the Amazon chief technology officer, announcing Shield at the event today.

The attacks in October targeted Dynamic Network Services Inc., better known as Dyn, which is among several providers of domain-name services to AWS. Shortly after the attacks started Friday morning, AWS discontinued its use of Dyn’s DNS services and rerouted traffic to other providers, restoring full service, according to a Wall Street Journal report. DNS translates the plain-English names of websites into the numbers used by computers that route internet traffic.

Oracle, which is seeking to rival Amazon Web Services in the cloud, announced an agreement in November to acquire Dyn. Oracle’s Larry Ellison has been publicly critical of Amazon Web Services recently. In yesterday’s keynote, AWS CEO Andy Jassy took multiple jabs at Larry Ellison and Oracle, criticizing their “bombast” and legacy database services.