Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has launched a new tool to help small websites handle dedicated denial of service (DDoS) attacks called Project Shield, which would create a common infrastructure for all sites in the network that is more resistant than any one of the sites on its own, reports Russel Brandom for The Verge.

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DDoS attacks are asymmetric: they are cheap and easy to implement but expensive to defend against if a website wants to remain available to normal traffic. Non-profit organizations, activist groups, and alternative media sites often get shut down by ideological or government rivals using DDoS attacks simply because it is so easy to do so.

Google’s solution for DDoS attacks

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s answer to this problem is built around PageSpeed, a service that is open to web developers generally. Project Shield would allow sites dealing with “media, elections, and human rights related content” to be hosted behind PageSpeed infrastructure so that the only way to take down any one of them is to take down every site using PageSpeed. While this is still possible, especially for governments, it would no longer be as cheap or easy to organize. A similar approach has been used by other services with some success, and hopefully Google will stick with the project long enough to hone this strategy and share their findings.

Google’s Project Shield

Project Shield was just one of the anti-authoritarian tools announced at the company’s Ideas Conference. There is also a digital map that can be used to visualize DDoS attacks presumably to make them easier to combat, and uProxy, a tool that lets people piggyback on a foreign friend’s connection to get around web censorship. uProxy is meant to be an alternative to Tor, but there is a high standard for tools that are designed to circumvent web monitoring and provide anonymity. A string of high-profile arrests show that even Tor, which hasn’t been broken per se, can be used incorrectly allowing authorities to track supposedly anonymous internet use. While no one’s upset to see online criminals arrested, dissidents in places like Iran and Syria relying on Tor for their safety would surely like to have more options available to them.