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The internet ecosystem, from operators of TLDs to fixed and mobile service providers, is always on the lookout for ways to improve security and make the web a better place. Akamai shares that goal, and we are pleased to partner with CIRA, through our Security and Personalization Services, to help build a better online Canada. Since early 2017, when we first began working with CIRA, it's amazing to reflect on how we went from product concept to live services in just a few months. Now, CIRA approaches a million individual users of their D-Zone DNS Firewall service and protects a wide range of organizations across Canada - schools, governments and small businesses.

Internet users everywhere see constant media coverage about cyber threats and they are increasingly worried about the risk to their businesses, personal data, and privacy. Stories about ransomware rapidly spreading around the world and infiltrating machines to destroy data are widely publicized. The number of phishing attacks also reached an all-time high in 2016 according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Botnets have also not gone away; they are designed to find valuable data like credit cards, logins, or credentials for financial transactions, and quietly exfiltrate them for monetization.

Small and medium businesses (SMB) and other organizations like schools and municipalities are not well equipped to cope with the onslaught. They often lack dedicated IT resources and security expertise, and their scale or budget constraints typically leave them underserved. Traditional security solutions either impose a maintenance burden, add complexity, do not handle HTTPS content, or simply cost too much. Better ways to address the security problem are needed and CIRA is leading the charge in Canada.

A straightforward deployment cycle, followed by rapid uptake of CIRA's service validates the value of DNS-based security solutions. Smart DNS resolvers can instantly evaluate customer DNS queries to determine whether they indicate some kind of malicious activity. Threats can be identified and even blocked altogether, and the data a DNS firewall can glean provides essential insights for remediation when it's necessary. The threat feed is updated automatically and in real time via the cloud to keep pace with even the most dynamic exploits.

It's a pretty simple approach and end customers benefit in multiple ways:

  • Great user experience - DNS-based filtering is extremely lightweight, there's no perceptible increase in latency.
  • Comprehensive coverage - everything uses the DNS, including the overwhelming majority of malware, because it's simple, powerful, and ubiquitous.
  • Simple installation and maintenance - there's no need to install software on devices or manage upgrades/updates. Service is enabled with a trivial configuration change (pointing customer DNS resolvers at the provider's cloud).
  • Agile threat coverage - detecting and blocking malicious DNS queries disrupts malicious activity at the earliest possible moment.
  • Service personalization - Simple extensions let users express their preferences for the content they want to be accessible in their workplaces and schools.

For fixed and mobile service providers security services are an obvious opportunity as competitive pressures increase and revenue growth remains modest. Our partnership with CIRA also provides a great template for TLD operators looking for ways to supplement their revenue streams to better serve the breadth of economic, cultural, and linguistic needs of their constituents.

Akamai Security and Personalization Services can be deployed in provider networks, in the cloud, or as a fully managed service. Services use one of the world's most accurate and extensive domain and URL databases for identifying malicious activity, with millions of validated and categorized entries maintained by data science experts. Pre-populated categories are continually updated to ensure new exploits (or unwanted content) are appropriately classified and automatically filtered.

CIRA has demonstrated there's a great opportunity to improve the internet, with a low deployment bar. Let's get the rest of the world started.