ProtonMail comes back online, shores up DDoS defenses

We're strong than ever, ProtonMail declares

ProtonMail, the Switzerland-based encrypted email service, has found its footing again after a wild ride over the past week.

The free service has said it was hit by two different groups using distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) that took it offline.

Now it has partnered with Radware, which offered its DDoS mitigation service for a "reasonable price," allowing service to resume, ProtonMail wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

"The attackers hoped to destroy our community, but this attack has only served to bring us all together, united by a common cause and vision for the future," the company wrote.

The first group of attackers, which call themselves the Armada Collective, asked ProtonMail for a ransom in bitcoin before launching attacks early on Nov. 4.

The Swiss Governmental Computer Emergency Response Team warned in September about blackmail attempts by the Armada Collective. They tend to launch a demo attack while demanding 10 or 20 bitcoins, and larger attacks follow if the ransom isn't paid. 

Controversially, ProtonMail paid the ransom. The company wrote in a blog post that it was under pressure from other companies to pay it in order to stop the attacks.

However, ProtonMail later edited the blog post, writing that paying "was clearly a wrong decision so let us be clear to all future attackers – ProtonMail will never pay another ransom."

The second group's attack on ProtonMail had wide-ranging effects on its service providers and other companies, which also were knocked offline. The 100Gbps-attack brought down ProtonMail's ISP, including the ISP's routers and data center.

ProtonMail suspected that the second group might be state-sponsored hackers because of the severe damage inflicted. Bizarrely, the Armada Collective told ProtonMail it wasn't responsible for the second set of attacks.

By Sunday, ProtonMail began recovering. An ISP, IP-Max, set up a direct link from ProtonMail's data center to a major Internet connection point in Zurich in less than a day, it wrote. Level 3 Communications lent a hand with IP transit.

An appeal for donations to put in better protections against DDoS has netted $50,000 so far as well. ProtonMail's service is free, but eventually it plans to introduce paid-for premium options.

ProtonMail is now using Radware's DefensePipe, a cloud-based service. Other companies, ProtonMail said, offered their services but "attempted to charge us exorbitant amounts."

ProtonMail offers a full, end-to-end encrypted email service and has more than 500,000 users. Although it has been possible to encrypt email for decades, interest has increased since documents leaked by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed massive data-collection operations by western spy agencies.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?