ProtonMail Crowdfunds Cyber Defense Against DDoS Attack

Swiss encrypted email provider ProtonMail has been held hostage by continued distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) since last week, but the company is fighting back with the power of crowdfunding.

The company was taken offline last week after a series of “extremely powerful” and coordinated DDoS attacks, where hackers inundated ProtonMail’s IP address and data center with fake traffic to the point that it because completely unavailable.

While the company has since restored its services, it said it may still come under attack again.

“We are currently working with solution providers to find a way to mitigate this attack, however, it is quite unprecedented in size and scope so unfortunately finding a working solution is not easy,” the company said in a statement.

In an initial attempt to stop the sustained attacks, ProtonMail said it responded to a blackmail communication it received via email on Nov. 3. The hackers demanded a ransom of 15 bitcoins (nearly $6,000), but after payments were made, the attacks continued.

Now the company is taking matters into its own hands by creating a GoFundMe page to raise money to help support a permanent solution to the problem.

The company said donations for its ProtonMail Defense Fund are needed because of the sophistication of the attacks and the expensive solutions that will be required to combat them. “ProtonMail was originally created to provide privacy to activists, journalists, whistleblowers, and other at risk groups, and we have many of those people in the ProtonMail community,” ProtonMail said. “Unfortunately, there are groups out there determined to oppose this, which has led to this incident. However, we are confident that with your support, we can overcome this attack and come back stronger than ever, and continue to provide a place where online privacy is protected,” the company’s statement continued.  

At the time of publication, ProtonMail’s GoFundMe page has nearly reached its goal of $50,000, raising $49,690 from 1,495 people in just four days.

In its continued communication concerning the cyberattack, ProtonMail has maintained that while access to its services may be limited, its end-to-end encryption has remained “100 percent untouched” and all of its users’ data is secure.

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