As the COVID-19 emergency continues to affect countries and territories around the world, the Internet has been a key factor in providing information to the public. As businesses, organizations and government agencies adjust to this new normal, we recognize the strain that this pandemic has put on the groups working to assist in virus mitigation and provide accurate information to the general public on the state of the pandemic.
At Cloudflare, this means ensuring that these entities have the necessary tools and resources available to them in these extenuating circumstances. On March 13, we announced our Cloudflare for Teams products will be free until September 1, 2020, to ensure Cloudflare users and prospective users have the tools they need to support secure and efficient remote work. Additionally, we have removed usage caps for existing Cloudflare for Teams users and are also providing onboarding sessions so these groups can continue business in this new normal.
As a company, we believe we can do more and have been thinking about ways we can support organizations and businesses that are at the forefront of the pandemic such as health officials and those providing relief to the public. Many organizations have reached out to us with COVID-19 related initiatives including the creation of symptom tracking websites, medical resource donations, and websites focused on providing updates on COVID-19 cases in specific regions.
During this time, we have seen an increase in applications for Project Galileo, an initiative we started in 2014 to provide free services to organizations on the Internet including humanitarian organizations, media sites and voices of political dissent. Project Galileo was started to ensure these groups stay online, as they are repeatedly targeted due to the work they do. Since March 16, we have seen a 40% increase in applications for the project of organizations related to COVID-19 relief efforts and information. We are happy to assist other organizations that have started initiatives such as these with ensuring the accessibility and resilience of their web infrastructure and internal team.
Risks faced to Government Agencies Web Infrastructure due to COVID-19 pandemic
As COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, the Internet has allowed many aspects of our life to adapt and carry on. From health care, to academia, to sales, a working Internet infrastructure is essential for business continuity and the dissemination of information. At Cloudflare, we’ve witnessed the effects of this transition to online interaction. In the last two months, we have seen both a massive increase in Internet traffic and a shift in the type of content users access online. Government agencies have seen a 100% increase in traffic to their websites during the pandemic.
This unexpected shift in traffic patterns can come with a cost. Essential websites that provide crucial information and updates on this pandemic may not have configured their systems to handle the massive surges in traffic they are currently seeing. Government agencies providing essential health information to citizens on the COVID-19 pandemic have temporarily gone offline due to increased traffic. We’ve also seen examples of public service announcements and the sites of local governments providing unemployment resources unable to serve their traffic. In New Jersey, New York and Ohio, websites that provide unemployment benefits and health insurance options for people who have recently been laid off have crashed due to large amounts of traffic and unprecedented demand.
During the spread of COVID-19, government agencies have also experienced cyberattacks.
The Australian government’s digital platform for providing welfare services for Australian citizens, known as Mygov, was slow and inaccessible for a short period of time. Although a DDoS attack was suspected, the problems were actually the result of 95,000 legitimate requests to access unemployment benefits, as the country recently doubled these benefits to help those impacted by the pandemic.
COVID-19 Government Package
Cloudflare has helped improve the security and performance of many vulnerable entities on the Internet with Project Galileo and ensured the security of government related election agencies with the Athenian Project. Our services are designed not only to prevent malicious actors from disrupting a website, but also to protect large influxes of legitimate traffic. In light of recent events, we want to help state and local government agencies stay online and provide essential information to the public without worrying their site can be taken down by malicious or unexpected spikes in traffic.
Therefore, we are excited to provide a free package of services to state and local governments worldwide until September 1, 2020, to ensure they have the tools needed to secure their web infrastructure and internal teams.
This package of free services includes the following features:
- Cloudflare Business Level services: Includes unmetered mitigation of DDoS attacks, web application firewall (WAF) with up to 25 custom rulesets, and ability to upload custom SSL certificates.
- Rate limiting: Rate Limiting allows users to rate limit, shape or block traffic based on the rate of requests per client IP address, cookie, authentication token, or other attributes of the request.
- Cloudflare for Teams: A suite of tools to help ensure that those working from home can ensure continuity.
- Access: To ensure the security of internal teams, Cloudflare Access, allows for organizations to secure, authenticate, and monitor user access to any domain, application, or path on Cloudflare, without using a VPN.
- Gateway: Uses DNS filtering to help protect users from phishing scams or malware sites at multiple locations.
To apply for our COVID-19 government assistance initiative, please visit our website at https://www.cloudflare.com/governmentagency/.
We are also making this offer available for Cloudflare channel partners around the world to help support government agencies in their respective countries during this challenging time for the global community. If you are a partner and would like information on how to provide Cloudflare for Teams, a Business Plan and Rate Limiting at no charge, please contact your Cloudflare Partner Representative or email [email protected].
The news of COVID-19 has transformed every part of our lives. During this difficult time, the Internet has allowed us to stay connected with friends, family, and provide resources to those in need. At Cloudflare, we are committed to helping businesses, organizations and government agencies stay online to ensure that everyone has access to authoritative information.