Global telecommunications providers and network operators have linked to form perhaps the first large-scale alliance designed to combat the increasing scourge of Internet attacks.

Arbor Networks, a Lexington, Mass.-based network security firm, today announced the Fingerprint Sharing Alliance, an initiative comprised of global communications service providers committed to helping network operators share Internet attack information automatically.

The group hopes the wide-ranging efforts will stem the rising tide of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, which continue to grow and have become a serious threat to networks.

"We're seeing more technology-savvy criminals trying to make money through Denial-of-Service extortion schemes," Jim Slaby, a senior Yankee Group analyst, said in a statement. "Service providers that are cooperating by sharing attack fingerprints are helping mitigate these threats more quickly and closer to the source, thus making the Internet a more secure place."

The organizations joining the fight, which include such industry heavyweights as Deutsche Telekom , MCI, NTT, Cisco Systems and EarthLink , are expected to share detailed attack profiles in real time and block attacks closer to the source.

"When an attack hits, time is of the essence," Tom Schuster, president of Arbor Networks, said in a statement. "By sharing the attack details, providers are better able to protect their customers, as the attack is mitigated closer to the point of origin, thus preventing collateral damage. Arbor's intent is to have global service providers join together to combat these cyber threats and protect the overall infrastructure of the Internet."

The company said the alliance was formed out of necessity to combat these global infrastructure attacks, which have become more distributed and diffused. The need for network operators to communicate faster and more efficiently with providers and customers is the most important step in protecting these systems.

Sharing information across business and network boundaries today has been a reactive and relationship-driven combination of e-mail and phone calls among colleagues, according to Schuster.

"MCI brings an unparalleled view into Internet security events around the globe," Mark Sitko, vice president of MCI Security Services Product Management, said in a statement. "As a member of the Fingerprint Sharing Alliance, the Internet community at large will benefit from MCI's robust sources of security information, award-winning expertise and ongoing commitment to securing networks for our customers."

As previously reported by, DoS attacks are the second most costly type of computer crime, according to the 2004 "Computer Crime and Security Survey," published by the Computer Security Institute (CSI) and the FBI and released last June.

In the survey, 494 companies said they lost $141.5 million because of computer crimes, down from 530 respondents who reported $201.8 million the previous year. DDoS attacks have replaced theft of intellectual property as the main security threat.