Intenet backbone company, Interoute has launched a free tool aimed at providing up-to-date information on security threats. The Internet Barometer draws on information provided by 22 sensors placed at strategic points on the Interoute backbone network and gives accurate information on the volume of threats on the Internet at any one time.

The desktop widget, downloadable from the Interoute website,  provides information on current threats within individual countries, on the volume of attacks and on which countries are doing most of the attacking. The information is currently updated every two or three hours.

Mark Osbourne, chief information security officer at Interoute said that the Internet Barometer had not been designed to supersede other services but was a way to get more accurate information. "I used SANs and ShadowServer myself, this is not meant to do away with the need for them but acts as a complement to them," he said. "The aim is to provide real-time information as to what's really happening out there, to separate the reality from the hype."

As an example, Osbourne said that the threatened Conficker attack on 1 April was widely reported to have been overstated. "However," said Osbourne, "on the 1 April we were tracking Conficker and we saw a 300 percent increase in activity, it's not resulted in the Armageddon that some vendors were predicting but it's not true to say that nothing happened.

The Conficker threat has not been the only one where the Internet Barometer has been able to assess the true level of a threat. "There was a case where a vendor started talking about how its systems were strong enough to resist a DDoS attack but by checking out the statistics we could see that the threat had been overstated." Osbourne said the DDoS detector was not part of the Internet barometer at the moment but expected that to be released as shareware within a couple of months.
"We don't really have a target audience for the Internet Barometer," said Osbourne," as we're not trying to sell it. We do think it will be useful for everyone, particularly for users who can't afford a paid-for service."

Osbourne said that the product was lacking historical and trends information but said that this will be provided at some point in the future.

Quocircca analyst Bob Tarzey said "Anything that helps businesses protect themselves from online threats is a good thing; the Interoute Internet Barometer monitors threats from within the Internet rather than at its edge, which means they should be detected at an early stage. By providing this free service, Interoute will help companies keep unwanted traffic under control, and ensure its own network performs better."