Verisign Plans for Security Alert System

Project Electra will examine Web traffic and provide an early warning system for attacks on the Internet, Verisign officials said Wednesday.

WASHINGTON—In a project dubbed Electra, Verisign Inc. plans to expand its proprietary DNS server platform—called Atlas—into a grid-like infrastructure to support more-sophisticated traffic analysis and pattern recognition. Electra, which will be unveiled next year, will help support an early warning system for Internet attacks.

The Mountain View, Calif., company will combine data streams obtained through its online payment service and its naming and directory services to identify threat correlations, according to company chairman and CEO Stratton Sclavos. The online payment system processes 96 million transactions a day, detecting commercial fraud such as identity theft; and the directory services manage 10 billion connections a day.

Put together, the systems can provide the basis for an offense strategy for battling viruses, worms and other Internet attacks, said Sclavos, who was in Washington Wednesday promoting the company. With more sophisticated data analysis, Verisign will be able to offer enterprises earlier warnings about attacks and a prioritized list of remedial steps, he said.

Verisign has spent $100 million over the past three years upgrading its infrastructure, according to Sclavos, who said the company is committed to further research and development.

"Were going to spend the money regardless of whether we get paid for it," he said.

Early analysis of data from the online payment and directory services suggests that commercial fraud and distributed attacks generally originate from the same IP addresses, according to Sclavos. Regions such as Eastern Europe and Africa appear to be a common source of both credit card rings and DDOS attacks, he said.

"It is clearly coming from the same regions," he said. "The newest set of threats seems to be much more organized, much more massive."

As for Verisigns controversial Web site redirect service, SiteFinder, which it was forced to shut down last month following worldwide complaints, Sclavos expects to re-launch it next year. In the meantime, he said, modifications will be made to the service, including added language support and an improved method of handling mail traffic.