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Shields up: free Cloudflare services to improve your cyber readiness

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Since our founding, Cloudflare's mission has been to "help build a better Internet," and we take it to heart. It used to be that the services required to adequately secure an online presence were only available to the largest of enterprises — organizations big enough to afford both the technology itself and the teams to manage it.

We've worked hard over the years to level the playing field. This has meant making more and more of the essential tools for protecting an online presence available to as many people as possible. Cloudflare offers unmetered DDoS protection — for free. We were the first to introduce SSL at scale — for free. And it’s not just protection for your external-facing infrastructure: we have a free Zero Trust plan that enables teams to protect their internal-facing infrastructure, too.

These types of tools have always been important for the billions of people on the Internet. But perhaps never as important as they've become this week.

Concurrent with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we've seen increasing cyberattacks on the Internet, too. Governments around the world are encouraging organizations to go “shields up” — with warnings coming from the United States’ Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Center, and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, amongst others.

Not surprisingly, we’ve been fielding many questions from our customers about what they should be doing to increase their cyber resilience. But helping to build a better Internet is broader than just helping our customers. We want everyone to be safe and secure online.

So: what should you do?

Whether you’re a seasoned IT professional or a novice website operator, these free Cloudflare resources are available for you today. Beyond these free resources, there are a few simple steps that you can take to help stay protected online.

Free Cloudflare resources to help keep you and your organization safe

These Cloudflare services are available to everyone on the Internet. If you’re a qualified vulnerable public interest group, or an election entity, we have additional free services available to you.

Let’s start with the services that are freely available to everyone.

For your public-facing infrastructure, such as a website, app, or API:

Protect your public-facing infrastructure using the Cloudflare Network

This provides the basics you need to protect public-facing infrastructure: unmetered DDoS mitigation, free SSL, protection from vulnerabilities including Log4J. Furthermore, it includes built-in global CDN and DNS.

For your internal-facing infrastructure, such as cloud apps, self-hosted apps, and devices:

Protect your team with Cloudflare Zero Trust

These essential security controls keep employees and apps protected online by ensuring secure access to the Internet, self-hosted applications and SaaS applications. Free for up to 50 users.

For your personal devices, such as phones, computers, and routers:

Protect your devices with 1.1.1.2

Otherwise known as Cloudflare for Families. This is the same as Cloudflare’s privacy-protecting, superfast 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver. However, 1.1.1.2 has one big added benefit over 1.1.1.1: if you click on a link that’s about to take you to malware, we step in on your behalf, preventing you from ending up on the malicious site. It’s super simple to set up:  you can follow the instructions here, then click the “Protect your home against malware” button; or simply update your DNS settings to use the following:

1.1.1.2
1.0.0.2
2606:4700:4700::1112
2606:4700:4700::1002

And while we’ve called it Cloudflare for Families, we should note: it works equally well for businesses, too.

All the services listed above are available now. They can scale to the most demanding applications and withstand the most determined attacks. And they are made freely available to everyone on the Internet.

Cloudflare provides an additional level of free services to special types of organizations.

Project Galileo: for vulnerable public interest groups

Founded in 2014, Project Galileo is Cloudflare’s response to cyberattacks launched against important yet vulnerable targets like artistic groups, humanitarian organizations, and the voices of political dissent. Perhaps now more than ever, protecting these organizations is crucial to delivering the promise of the Internet. Importantly, it’s not us deciding who qualifies: we work with a range of partner organizations such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology to help identify qualified organizations.

Over the past week we’ve seen an influx of applications to Project Galileo from civil society and community organizations in Ukraine and the region who are increasingly organizing to provide support and essential information to the people of Ukraine. To the vulnerable organizations that qualify, we offer a range of further Cloudflare services that we usually reserve for our largest enterprise customers. You can visit here to find out more about Project Galileo, or if you think your organization might qualify, we encourage you to apply here.

The Athenian Project: for election entities

As with public interest groups, there are many malicious actors today who try to interfere with free and democratic elections. One very simple way that they can do this is through cyberattacks. Just like every other Internet property, election websites need to be fast, they need to be reliable, and they need to be secure. Yet, scarce budgets often prevent governments from getting the resources needed to prevent attacks and keep these sites online.

Just like with Project Galileo, for election entities that qualify, we offer a range of further Cloudflare services to help keep them safe, fast, and online. We have more information about the Athenian Project here, and if you’re working at an election entity, you can apply at the bottom of that same page.

We’re all dependent on the Internet more than ever. But as that dependency grows, so too does our vulnerability to attack. Cloudflare provides these no cost services in the spirit of helping to build a better Internet. Please take advantage of them, and spread the word to other people and organizations who could benefit from them too.

Basic online security hygiene

Beyond Cloudflare’s free services, there are a range of basic steps that you can take to help protect your online presence. We’re imagining that almost everyone will have heard of these steps before. For those of you who have heard it but have been putting it off, now is the time. Taking these simple steps today can save you a world of cyber heartache tomorrow.

Don’t re-use passwords across accounts. It’s unfortunate, but websites and applications are compromised every day. Sometimes, a compromise will result in a hacker gaining access to all the usernames and passwords on that website or app. One of the first things a hacker will then do is try all those username and password combinations on other popular websites. If you had an account on a compromised website, and your password there is the same as the one you use for (say) your online banking account, well… they’re now in your bank account. Compounding this, compromised credentials are frequently bought and sold in illegal online marketplaces. You can check if your credentials have been compromised on this site. It’s extremely important to ensure that you don’t use the same credentials on multiple sites or apps.

Use multi-factor authentication on your accounts. This adds a second layer of identification beyond just your password. It often takes the form of a confirmation code in a text message or email, or better yet, a randomly generated code from an authentication app, or, best of all, a hardware key that you insert into your computer or wave at your phone. This helps ensure that the person logging into your account is actually you. Internally at Cloudflare, we use hardware keys exclusively because of their high security.

Use a password manager. If you want to compress the two above steps down into one, find and begin using a password manager. A password manager helps you manage passwords across multiple accounts; it automatically creates a random and unique password for each login you have. It can also manage randomly generated multi-factor authentication for you. If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, Apple has one built into iOS and macOS that will sync across your devices. 1Password and LastPass are also very popular examples. We require the use of a password manager at Cloudflare, and recommend their use to everyone.

Keep your software up to date. This applies for all your software — both operating systems and applications, on computers and on your phone. Flaws and potential security holes are being discovered all the time. While vendors are increasingly quick to react, and software can be patched over the Internet in a matter of minutes — this only works if you click the “Install Update Now” button. Or better yet, you can set updates to be automatic, and this can help to guarantee that your systems stay current.

Be extra cautious before clicking on links in emails. According to the CISA, more than 90% of successful cyber-attacks start with a phishing email.  This is when a link or webpage looks legitimate, but it’s actually designed to have you reveal your passwords or other sensitive information. You can double-check the URL of any links you click on. Or better yet, type the URL in yourself, or search for the site you’re looking for from your search engine. Finally, 1.1.1.2 (see above in this post) can help protect you in the event that you do click on one of these phishing links.

Be extra cautious giving credentials to people who have called you. Phishing doesn’t just happen via email. It can happen over the phone, too. It might be a call from someone claiming to work at your bank, telling you there’s strange activity on your account. Or someone claiming to be an IT administrator at your company, asking why you’ve been looking at strange websites. After putting you on the back foot, they’ll ask for something so they “can help you” — possibly a password or a text confirmation code. Don’t give it to them. If you’re at all unsure of anyone who just called you, there’s a simple solution: ask them for their name, their department, and their organization, and then hang up. You can then call them back through a phone number that their organization advertises on their homepage.

Have an offline, or at least a cloud-based, backup of critical or irreplaceable data. Even if you follow every last piece of advice above, there is still the risk that something bad happens. A backup of your critical data — ideally offline, but even one up in the cloud — is your last line of defense. Beyond security resilience, backups also improve your general resilience. Lost devices, natural disasters, and accidents happen. Backups mitigate the impact.

These are simple and immediate actions you can take to help keep your online presence secure.

From everyone at Cloudflare: we hope that you and your loved ones are safe during these unpredictable times.

We protect entire corporate networks, help customers build Internet-scale applications efficiently, accelerate any website or Internet application, ward off DDoS attacks, keep hackers at bay, and can help you on your journey to Zero Trust.

Visit 1.1.1.1 from any device to get started with our free app that makes your Internet faster and safer.

To learn more about our mission to help build a better Internet, start here. If you're looking for a new career direction, check out our open positions.

Cyber Readiness Free Security Project Galileo Athenian Project

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