April 20, 2009
Parabon announced today the Parabon Blitz Distributed Testing Service, an online testing service built around the first of the company's new Frontier-powered cyber security applications. Using thousands of computers on its massive online compute grid to generate targeted network traffic, Parabon will use Blitz to provide a variety of distributed test and monitoring services for customer websites, web services and other service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications. Customers can also conduct Blitz tests within their own internal networks with Frontier Enterprise, Parabon's enterprise grid software solution that uses idle capacity across an organization's IT infrastructure to power grid applications.
Parabon plans its first public demonstration of Blitz in Anaheim this week at the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Customer Partnership Conference, where it will conduct live fire denial-of-service exercises. Dr. Steven Armentrout, Founder and CEO of Parabon, stated before the conference, "There's a lot of talk about the importance of cyber security, but few realize the degree to which many important government network services are vulnerable to cyber attack. The DISA Conference is a fitting venue for a white-hat wakeup call."
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, in which thousands of centrally controlled, disparately located computers bombard a network target with more requests than it can handle, is among the most effective means of disabling network resources. DDoS assaults paralyzed Estonian government networks for two weeks in 2007 and the incidence of such attacks is on the rise. The Pentagon has reportedly spent more than $100 million in the past six months responding to cyber attacks like those recently found to have comprised the U.S. electric power system.
Dr. Steven Hutchison, Test and Evaluation Executive at DISA, says that cyber "red teaming" (simulating large-scale cyber attacks) is an essential part of the U.S. cyber preparedness program. "As we move more and more into net-centric operations, the network and our information become prime targets for our enemies. Therefore, we must be able to discover and fix vulnerabilities before we field new capabilities; red team testing is essential if we are to do that."
Parabon Blitz supports red teaming by coordinating thousands of computers on a Frontier grid to provide testing at scales comparable to a full-on cyber attack — a major improvement over stand-alone testing solutions that generate network load from a single source. In addition to cyber security, Blitz is also an effective platform for testing and validating the functionality of heavily trafficked sites and services.
Blitz comes with several common traffic generators and its plug-in interface makes it easy to add others. Intending to leverage this extensibility, Parabon is in active discussions with other vendors of testing software about integrating vendor-specific plug-ins into the offering. "Blitz is built on a programmable framework, so it's natural to partner with other testing vendors to provide customers an easy means of running existing tests at scale," Armentrout stated.
The browser-based Blitz application is another example of Parabon's growing number of Grid Software as a Service (GSaaS) offerings and is the first of several applications comprising the Parabon Cyber Security Suite, all of which are powered by the company's Frontier Grid Platform. Whether used online or within the enterprise, Frontier applications get their computational power from the idle capacity of the computers on which they run, which allows customers to avoid costly hardware expenditures. Moreover, the distributed nature of Frontier makes possible powerful grid applications, such as Blitz, that cannot be implemented on traditional centralized computing architectures. "Many applications require the computational scale or distributed capabilities of a grid," says Armentrout, "and realistic load and performance testing is a great example."
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