Studies have shown that time after time it’s the external-facing Web applications that are most targeted by hackers and other digital miscreants. As the provider of a content delivery network (CDN) that is used primarily to accelerate the performance of those applications, it makes sense that Akamai should be playing a larger role in securing those applications.
With that goal in mind, Akamai Technologies today announced that it is acquiring Prolexic Technologies, a provider of a cloud-based security service that is primarily designed to thwart distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks while also protecting virtual private networks, email and file transfer applications.
According to Akamai CEO Tom Leighton, Prolexic will complement existing Akamai security services in a way that will now extend from Web applications to the entire data center. With more DDoS attacks relying on brute force to compromise enterprise IT sites, Leighton says Prolexic provides a synergistic security service to Akamai that reduces the need for IT organizations to invest in security infrastructure. Instead, high-performance security infrastructure can now be more cost-effectively deployed as a shared resource in the cloud.
Ultimately, Leighton says that Akamai expects security services to become as large a business as the company’s CDN service. As part of that effort, Leighton says customers should expect to see Akamai deliver a range of security intelligence services such as a real-time reputation database service that leverages analytics to provide a first line of security defense that will increasingly be defined and managed at much higher levels of abstraction.
As a service that runs a network that accelerates Web application performance, Akamai is clearly in a position to discover new security threats. The addition of Prolexic puts Akamai in a position to be able to do something about thwarting those attacks long before they ever reach the perimeter of the enterprise.
Almost by definition, any security battle that takes place on systems managed by an IT organization is, to one degree or another, going be a losing proposition. By applying more security defenses in the cloud, the expectation is that fewer exploits will ever make it as far as the enterprise. Obviously, that may not deter every attack. But as a first line of defense, the cloud is a much better place to discover, and hopefully eliminate, an attack than any network perimeter directly managed by the internal IT organization.