MCI is to insure companies against denial of service (DoS) attacks - the first time a company has included such a threat in its service level agreement, it claims.

Most SLAs guarantee a percentage of time a network and/or website will be accessible - usually a high number like 99.5 percent - with financial penalties if this isn't achieved. However, in the same way that "acts of God" are often excluded in traditional insurance, DoS attacks are usually referred to as existing outside the agreement.

MCI instead guarantees a 15-minute response to suspected DoS attacks. Customers will given immediate access to MCI security staff, who will determine and implement whatever steps it feels are necessary to bypass the threat. MCI says that it is the first and only service provider to develop a set of effective anti-DoS network tools and techniques that can be used to quickly trace and stop potential attacks.

The company will extend its SLA to DoS attacks at no extra cost and apply it across all MCI Internet Protocol (IP) services, including dedicated and remote Internet access, IP VPN Dedicated and Remote, and Internet Colocation, Shared and single-server Dedicated Hosting.

“MCI’s experience operating IP networks along with its advanced network monitoring and management capabilities enable the company to provide the strongest security defense for our customers,” says Sara Santarelli, MCI vice-president of network security. “Our new SLA gives customers greater peace of mind, knowing that MCI will help them stop Internet threats and attacks, while further demonstrating our commitment and ability to making the Internet a safer place for the greater Internet community.”

One of the first companies to sign up to MCI's new SLA is Ask Jeeves, the Web’s second most popular search engine. Ask Jeeves receives more than 19.5 million unique users monthly and relies solely on its Internet presence for business.

“MCI’s new DoS SLA is an enormous step forward for the entire industry,” says Dayne Sampson, vice-president of ICT for Ask Jeeves. “MCI has set the bar for other providers, as it commits to effectively responding to suspected DoS attacks within minutes of their start. As a company under daily attack, MCI represents a critical component in our Internet security defense - enabling Ask Jeeves to seamlessly conduct business 24 hours a day.”