Allstream to lure customers with DDoS promotion

Distributed denial of service attacks can be described in many ways: At the very least they are annoying – they don’t involve the loss of corporate data – but they can be crippling if an organization is offline too long.

This week Allstream, the business services arm of Manitoba Telecom, said its offering a significant and temporary discount on its optional DDoS protection as a way to drum up more customers for its corporate Internet service.

“Canadian businesses really shouldn’t be contemplating Internet service without a network-based DDos protection,” said Michael Strople, chief operating officer Allstream.

Offered since 2008 to a small group of large customers, Strople said over time demand has increased from all sizes of businesses. As a result Allstream decided to re-price the product.

The decision comes after one of the largest DDoS attacks in history was directed in March at the spam-fighting Spamhaus agency. It also comes as Prolexic, a security service, warned this week that a wide range of IP devices including Internet-connected printers are being used to launch DDoS attacks because of vulnerabilities in the SNMP protocol. Usually the attacks come from compromised servers and PCs.

For the next two months customers of Allstream’s E100 Ethernet service can add the Secure Internet denial of service protection for $100 a month, or $200 for E1000 subscribers. These are flat rates regardless of bandwidth options and will be valid for the length of the contract.

After June 30, E100 Internet Circuit DDoS protection will start at $105 per month and range up to $225 on a three year contract based on bandwidth. On an E1000 circuit prices range from $185 to $865 per month on a three year contract. 

An Allstream spokesperson said the rates until now had been double that.

DDoS attacks are identified, quarantined and scrubbed before reaching a corporate network, Allstream says. Customers can decide what level of attack is important and then decide what to do either manually or automatically. They also have access to a portal that gives real-time bandwidth usage monitoring and reports.

Strople said the Allstream cloud-based DDoS defence can withstand a large attack.

Large commercial Internet providers usually offer DDoS protection. For example, BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada has a managed DDoS offering. When an attack is validated as malicious, the carrier updates routers to block the source IP address, the company’s Web site says. For large global attacks, the destination IP address is black-holed in order to maintain access for that circuit.

A Bell spokesman said pricing varies depending on the size of business, configuration of the circuit, other products or services the customer may have.

DDoS protection is good to have, says an industry analyst, but there are many other aspects to IP security.

“At the end of the day your security is only as good as your weakest link,” said Lawrence Surtees, IDC Canada’s research vice-president for telecommunications.

“There are certain things inside the firewall that have to be up to the business to make sure that’s there’s no Achilles tendon.”

Allstream’s DDoS price reduction is the first step is in what it hopes will be a larger offering. Strople said it is working its DDoS technology partner, Arbor Networks, and other carriers to create a more automated denial-of-service defense system. The existing cloud-based system would send early warnings to organizations with an on-premise Arbor appliance, which would trigger automated responses.

The expectation is the solution will be offered this year. 

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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