Managed DNS service provider UltraDNS is touting a new offering that it says will protect websites against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks akin to the WikiLeaks-related protests that knocked the Visa and MasterCard websites offline in December.

Dubbed SiteProtect, the new UltraDNS service is designed to help website operators limit damage from online protests through a cloud-based DDoS mitigation service that is priced like an insurance policy.

UltraDNS officials predict that WikiLeaks-style symbolic attacks on corporate web sites will become more common in 2011.

"We're seeing more of the WikiLeaks type of attacks, where they're going after both the DNS infrastructure and the web infrastructure," says Rick Rumbarger, senior director of product management with Neustar Internet Infrastructure Services. "We're starting to see a shift in what's going on in the cyberworld, where people are utilising social media to distribute their attack capabilities and rally around a cause."

Rumbarger predicts that more organisations will move their protests online in the future, because of the success of the attacks by WikiLeaks sympathisers.

"They're using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to promote a concept," Rumbarger says. "They believe, 'I've had an injustice happen to me, and like all of my friends, I'm going to participate in a protest of this organisation through a DDoS attack'... It's no longer about cybergangs, it's a modern version of a protest.''

UltraDNS' new SiteProtect service features cloud-based HTTP and HTTPS attack mitigation services. The SiteProtect mitigation service is offered on a low, fixed-fee basis that is similar to the deductible on an insurance policy. The SiteProtect service was launched in January.

Rumbarger says UltraDNS has several banking and financial services customers of the SiteProtect service, but declined to name them. "We were involved in some of the protection from the WikiLeaks fallout," he says.

Rumbarger says the cloud-based approach of UltraDNS' SiteProtect service is more economical for customers than purchasing excess network bandwidth to handle DDoS attacks.

"Before, the attack had to get to your premises before you could mitigate it. So you had to have massive pipes sitting there idle with tens of gigabytes of capacity," he says. "You had this large capacity infrastructure that you had to buy and maintain, but you also had to have large opex and personnel expences. By moving this service into the cloud, the pipes are no longer an issue. You no longer have the capex because it's done as a service with a low monthly fee and no excess bandwidth.''

UltraDNS is part of Neustar's Internet Infrastructure Services group, which grew 29% in 2010 to $59.3 million in revenues.