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VeriSign builds $1bn internet security Titan

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RSA Verisign will spend $1bn during the next three years beefing up its internet infrastructure following this week's high-profile root server attack.

Verisign, the company managing .com and .net addresses, today announced Project Titan will drastically increase its server and bandwidth capacity to offset attacks as millions of users and devices surge online.

Chief executive Stratton Sclavos told the RSA Conference in San Francisco the spend is necessary to "make sure we are ahead of the race, instead of the bad guys".

Titan will see Verisign increase capacity of its DNS servers from 400 billion queries per day to more than four trillion, and bandwidth will be ramped from 20Gbps to 200Gbps to provide added redundancy and ensure attackers can't take any single geographic region offline, according to Sclavos.

The upgrade comes in the wake of a sustained 12-hour attack on three of the 13 root servers that maintain the internet's backbone launched by zombie PCs. The attack initially targeted domains ending in .uk but then moved to .org. It is not believed that any Verisign systems were targeted during the attack.

Observers are scratching their heads over the significance of the attack. While it's agreed that users experienced minimal impact, the feeling is this could herald something bigger. Calling the attack "sophisticated yet simple", Sclavos warned RSA that this was a sign of things to come as the perpetrators were probably unaware of how easy it was to scale up their attack to hit more servers and geographic regions.

According to Sclavos, Titan will help future proof the web against more damaging denial of service attacks as more users come online. The company expects a 20-fold increase in internet use by 2010 with of 1.8bn users while cyber attacks will increase by 50 per cent each year for the next two years.

Sclavos, meanwhile, went on to criticize the security industry for failing to devise security technology that is simple enough for the average PC and internet user.

Echoing RSA speakers from earlier this week, Sclavos warned that lack of confidence among consumers in things like security, privacy and protection of their online details is damaging the internet's growth. It's calculated $2bn was not spent online during the holiday season while 32 million consumers are not engaging in online banking because of lingering security concerns.

"As an industry we have failed to deliver it [security]," Sclavos said. "It's been put to use in marginal terms. We have the technology [PKI, firewalls, tokens and intrusion protection]... yet consumers feel more vulnerable than they've ever felt and are less comfortable in what they are doing. We think it's time for an end-to-end solution for what's become an end-to-end problem." ®

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