All posts by Joao Sousa Botto

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/announcing-route-to-workers/

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

Cloudflare Email Routing has quickly grown to a few hundred thousand users, and we’re incredibly excited with the number of feature requests that reach our product team every week. We hear you, we love the feedback, and we want to give you all that you’ve been asking for. What we don’t like is making you wait, or making you feel like your needs are too unique to be addressed.

That’s why we’re taking a different approach – we’re giving you the power tools that you need to implement any logic you can dream of to process your emails in the fastest, most scalable way possible.

Today we’re announcing Route to Workers, for which we’ll start a closed beta soon. You can join the waitlist today.

How this works

When using Route to Workers your Email Routing rules can have a Worker process the messages reaching any of your custom Email addresses.

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

Even if you haven’t used Cloudflare Workers before, we are making onboarding as easy as can be. You can start creating Workers straight from the Email Routing dashboard, with just one click.

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

After clicking Create, you will be able to choose a starter that allows you to get up and running with minimal effort. Starters are templates that pre-populate your Worker with the code you would write for popular use cases such as creating a blocklist or allowlist, content based filtering, tagging messages, pinging you on Slack for urgent emails, etc.

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

You can then use the code editor to make your new Worker process emails in exactly the way you want it to – the options are endless.

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

And for those of you that prefer to jump right into writing their own code, you can go straight to the editor without using a starter. You can write Workers with a language you likely already know. Cloudflare built Workers to execute JavaScript and WebAssembly and has continuously added support for new languages.

The Workers you’ll use for processing emails are just regular Workers that listen to incoming events, implement some logic, and reply accordingly. You can use all the features that a normal Worker would.

The main difference being that instead of:

export default {
  async fetch(request, env, ctx) {
    handleRequest(request);
  }
}

You’ll have:

export default {
  async email(message, env, ctx) {
    handleEmail(message);
  }
}

The new `email` event will provide you with the “from”, “to” fields, the full headers, and the raw body of the message. You can then use them in any way that fits your use case, including calling other APIs and orchestrating complex decision workflows. In the end, you can decide what action to take, including rejecting or forwarding the email to one of your Email Routing destination addresses.

With these capabilities you can easily create logic that, for example, only accepts messages coming from one specific address and, when one matches the criteria, forwards to one or more of your verified destination addresses while also immediately alerting you on Slack. Code for such feature could be as simple as this:

export default {
   async email(message, env, ctx) {
       switch (message.to) {
           case "[email protected]":
               await fetch("https://webhook.slack/notification", {
                   body: `Got a marketing email from ${ message.from }, subject: ${ message.headers.get("subject") }`,
               });
               sendEmail(message, [
                   "[email protected]",
                   "[email protected]",
               ]);
               break;

           default:
               message.reject("Unknown address");
       }
   },
};

Route to Workers enables everyone to programmatically process their emails and use them as triggers for any other action. We think this is pretty powerful.

Process up to 100,000 emails/day for free

The first 100,000 Worker requests (or Email Triggers) each day are free, and paid plans start at just $5 per 10 million requests. You will be able to keep track of your Email Workers usage right from the Email Routing dashboard.

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

Join the Waitlist

You can join the waitlist today by going to the Email section of your dashboard, navigating to the Email Workers tab, and clicking the Join Waitlist button.

Route to Workers, automate your email processing

We are expecting to start the closed beta in just a few weeks, and can’t wait to hear about what you’ll build with it!

As usual, if you have any questions or feedback about Email Routing, please come see us in the Cloudflare Community and the Cloudflare Discord.

Email Routing Insights

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/email-routing-insights/

Email Routing Insights

Email Routing Insights

Have you ever wanted to try a new email service but worried it might lead to you missing any emails? If you have, you’re definitely not alone. Some of us email ourselves to make sure it reaches the correct destination, others don’t rely on a new address for anything serious until they’ve seen it work for a few days. In any case, emails often contain important information, and we need to trust that our emails won’t get lost for any reason.

To help reduce these worries about whether emails are being received and forwarded – and for troubleshooting if needed – we are rolling out a new Overview page to Email Routing. On the Overview tab people now have full visibility into our service and can see exactly how we are routing emails on their behalf.

Routing Status and Metrics

The first thing you will see in the new tab is an at a glance view of the service. This includes the routing status (to know if the service is configured and running), whether the necessary DNS records are configured correctly, and the number of custom and destination addresses on the zone.

Email Routing Insights

Below the configuration summary, you will see more advanced statistics about the number of messages received on your custom addresses, and what happened to those messages. You will see information about the number of emails forwarded or dropped by Email Routing (based on the rules you created), and the number that fall under other scenarios such as being rejected by Email Routing (due to errors, not passing security checks or being considered spam) or rejected by your destination mailbox. You now have the exact counts and a chart, so that you can track these metrics over time.

Email Routing Insights

Activity Log

On the Cloudflare Email Routing tab you’ll also see the Activity Log, where you can drill deeper into specific behaviors. These logs show you details about the email messages that reached one of the custom addresses you have configured on your Cloudflare zone.

For each message the logs will show you the Message ID, Sender, Custom Address, when Cloudflare Email Routing received it, and the action that was taken. You can also expand the row to see the SPF, DMARC, and DKIM status of that message along with any relevant error messaging.

And we know looking at every message can be overwhelming, especially when you might be resorting to the logs for troubleshooting purposes, so you have a few options for filtering:

  • Search for specific people (email addresses) that have messaged you.
  • Filter to show only one of your custom addresses.
  • Filter to show only messages where a specific action was taken.
Email Routing Insights

Routes and Settings

Next to the Overview tab, you will find the Routes tab with the configuration UI that is likely already familiar to you. That’s where you create custom addresses, add and verify destination addresses, and create rules with the relationships between the custom and destination addresses.

Email Routing Insights

Lastly the Settings tab includes less common actions such as the DNS configuration and the options for off boarding from Email Routing.

We hope you enjoy this update. And if you have any questions or feedback about this product, please come see us in the Cloudflare Community and the Cloudflare Discord.

Email Routing is now in open beta, available to everyone

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/email-routing-open-beta/

Email Routing is now in open beta, available to everyone

Email Routing is now in open beta, available to everyone

I won’t beat around the bush: we’ve moved Cloudflare Email Routing from closed beta to open beta 🎉

What does this mean? It means that there’s no waitlist anymore; every zone* in every Cloudflare account has Email Routing available to them.

To get started just open one of the zones in your Cloudflare Dashboard and click on Email in the navigation pane.

Email Routing is now in open beta, available to everyone

Our journey so far

Back in September 2021, during Cloudflare’s Birthday Week, we introduced Email Routing as the simplest solution for creating custom email addresses for your domains without the hassle of managing multiple mailboxes.

Many of us at Cloudflare saw a need for this type of product, and we’ve been using it since before it had a UI. After Birthday Week, we started gradually opening it to Cloudflare customers that requested access through the wait list; starting with just a few users per week and gradually ramping up access as we found and fixed edge cases.

Most recently, with users wanting to set up Email Routing for more of their domains and with some of G Suite legacy users looking for an alternative to starting a subscription, we have been onboarding tens of thousands of new zones every day into the closed beta. We’re loving the adoption and the feedback!

Needless to say that with hundreds of thousands of zones from around the world in the Email Routing beta we uncovered many new use cases and a few limitations, a few of which still exist. But these few months of closed beta gave us the confidence to move to the next stage – open beta – which now makes Cloudflare Email Routing available to everyone, including free zones.

Thank you to all of you that were part of the closed beta and provided feedback. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome everyone else!

If you have any questions or feedback about this product, please come see us in the Cloudflare Community and the Cloudflare Discord.

___

*we do have a few limitations, such as not currently supporting Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and subdomains. Known limitations are listed in the documentation.

Attack Maps now available on Radar

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/attack-maps-now-available-on-radar/

Attack Maps now available on Radar

Attack Maps now available on Radar

Cloudflare Radar launched as part of last year’s Birthday Week. We described it as a “newspaper for the Internet”, that gives “any digital citizen the chance to see what’s happening online [which] is part of our pursuit to help build a better, more informed, Internet”.

Since then, we have made considerable strides, including adding dedicated pages to cover how key events such as the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship and the Tokyo Olympics shaped Internet usage in participating countries, and added a Radar section for interactive deep-dive reports on topics such as DDoS.

Today, Radar has four main sections:

  • Main page with near real-time information about global Internet usage.
  • Internet usage details by country (see, for example, Portugal).
  • Domain insights, where searching for a domain returns traffic, registration and certificate information about it.
  • Deep-dive reports on complex and often underreported topics.

Cloudflare’s global network spans more than 250 cities in over 100 countries. Because of this, we have the unique ability to see both macro and micro trends happening online, including insights on how traffic is flowing around the world or what type of attacks are prevalent in a certain country.

Radar Maps will make this information even richer and easier to consume.

Introducing Radar Maps

Starting today, Radar has two new data visualizations to help us share more insights from our data and represent what’s happening on the Internet.

  • Geographical distribution of application-level attacks
  • Sankey diagrams showing the top attacks flows
Attack Maps now available on Radar

Note: The identified location of the devices involved in the attack may not be the actual location of the people performing the attack.

Geographical distribution of application-level attacks, in both directions

Cyber threats are more common than ever. In the third quarter of 2021 Cloudflare blocked an average of 76 billion cyber threats each day and had visibility over many more. Helping build a better Internet also means giving people more visibility over our data. That’s why we’ve made a near real-time view of the types of attacks, protocol distribution, and attack volume over time available on Radar from day one.

Now we’re adding a geographical representation of origin and target of such attacks using two new visualizations.

First, we have a global map drawing near real-time directional lines of the attacks, also known as a “pew pew” map — thank you, 1983 and WarGames.

Second, we have Sankey diagrams that are great for representing how strongly the attacks are flowing from one country to the other.

Attack Maps now available on Radar

We hope you like what we’ve built with our new Radar Maps. Radar, unlike any other insights platform out there, is totally built on Cloudflare components and our edge computing platform —  Workers and Workers KV. This gives us new and unique ways of representing data at scale. So do keep checking back radar.cloudflare.com to see the Internet evolving in (near) real-time.

Easily creating and routing email addresses with Cloudflare Email Routing

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/introducing-email-routing/

Easily creating and routing email addresses with Cloudflare Email Routing

Easily creating and routing email addresses with Cloudflare Email Routing

Over four billion people — or half of the world’s population — have at least one email address, many of whom use it as an essential tool to stay on top of their personal and professional matters. More than 300 billion emails are sent and received every day, but seeing email as just a communications tool wouldn’t do it justice. Its impact in our lives goes far beyond being a vessel for messages — its use cases also cover being a common way of validating one’s identity online, and serving as the gateway for other communication platforms.

Today, most people use their email for sensitive purposes, such as logging in to their bank account, or communicating with governmental entities. At the same time, they will use that email to sign up for a 10% off coupon they found online, which will surely spam them for months to come. Despite these two use cases being polar opposites in relation to importance and security, people take the risk, usually for the sake of conveniently managing one account.

Much in the same way, businesses want to have different email addresses for different types of inquiries, such as sales and support, but often find it cumbersome to control who receives these emails. And as the business evolves, matters that were handled by the owner often need to be handed off to other people. But for small businesses it’s not usually straightforward to configure mailboxes and aliases.

And then there are countless individuals and families that juggle multiple mailboxes to handle the Internet identities that they use, to represent their various online presences.

We understand these challenges, and that’s why we’re launching Cloudflare Email Routing, the most straightforward way to create any number of email addresses that are redirected to the mailbox you, your family or your team are already using.

Cloudflare Email Routing

Cloudflare Email Routing is designed to simplify the way you create and manage email addresses, without needing to keep an eye on additional mailboxes.

The process is simple:

  1. You enter the email address you want to create on your domain
  2. You enter the email address you want it forwarded to
Easily creating and routing email addresses with Cloudflare Email Routing

As some of you already know, email consists of the envelope, the header, and its body.

The envelope is part of the SMTP transport protocol and tells the servers where the email is coming from and where it’s supposed to be delivered.

The headers contain structured information like the message traveled path, date, the sender and recipients’ addresses, subject, and other technical metadata like SPF pass results, DKIM signatures, and anti-spam scores. Every time the message goes through a server, it can add new headers or modify the existing ones until it reaches the final inbox.

And finally, there’s the body of the message, where the actual content resides. The body can be plain text, rich HTML, it can contain file attachments, and in some cases, it can be signed or even encrypted.

Here’s a simplified diagram of how the SMTP protocol works and how the three steps of an Email message fit together:

Easily creating and routing email addresses with Cloudflare Email Routing

Cloudflare Email Routing service acts as an intelligent router at the transport layer, handling and modifying the SMTP envelope to deliver the message at its final destination but preserving the original headers and keeping the body intact. This approach ensures that things like SPF, DKIM, and other security or anti-spam protocols don’t break and the recipient stays protected.

Furthermore, following the same privacy-first approach we use in other products, we don’t look into, queue, or store emails at any point. Messages are received, handled according to the configured rules, and delivered to their final destinations in real-time.

Private Beta access

Email Forwarding is now in private beta, and you can save your place in line through this sign-up form.

Then, to start using Email Routing, all you need to do is to add your domain to Cloudflare DNS.

If you don’t currently own a domain, you can buy one right here on our registrar.

Step-by-Step Configuration

Then there are only a few steps to creating a new email address and setting up forwarding:

  1. Go to the email page on the Cloudflare dashboard.
  2. Select Configure.
  3. Enter the email address you want to create (remember, this is for your domain, so you can pick anything you like). Alternatively, you can choose to use a catch-all so that all possible emails addresses in your domain are considered valid and forwarded.
  4. The DNS configuration step is automatic if you don’t have email configured for your domain. Otherwise, we provide straightforward guidance on how to best configure it for your needs.
  5. Lastly, you just need to validate that the destination email belongs to you. Super simple, and exactly the same as you’ve done a million times before.

We did say we made it straightforward!

With efficiency and simplicity in mind, we’re launching Email Routing with support for multiple rules and message forwarding to any upstream inbox of your choice.

However, we feel like the email scene has been long-dormant, and we have exciting new features coming soon that advantage of the Cloudflare platform, resources, and know-how.

We’re also listening. If you have questions, suggestions, or new ideas, share them in the community forum. We’ll be around.

To start using Cloudflare Email Routing just join the waitlist today through this form. We will be opening up this service to more users on a daily basis, and promise the short wait will be worth it!

Announcing Project Turpentine: an easy way to get off Varnish

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/announcing-turpentine/

Announcing Project Turpentine: an easy way to get off Varnish

Announcing Project Turpentine: an easy way to get off Varnish

When Varnish and the Varnish Configuration Language (VCL) were first introduced 15 years ago, they were an incredibly powerful combination to configure caching on servers (and your networks). It seemed a logical choice for a language to configure CDNs — caching in the cloud.

A lot has changed on the Internet since then.

In particular, caching is just one of many things that “CDNs” are expected to do: load balancing, DDoS protection, rate limiting, transformations, synthetic responses, routing and more. But above all what “CDNs” need to be is programmable, not just configurable.

Configuration went from a niche activity to a much more common — and often involved — requirement. We’ve heard from a lot of teams that want to remove critical dependencies on the one person they have who knows how to make configuration changes — because they’re the only one on the team who knows how to write in VCL.

But it’s not just about who can write VCL — it’s what VCL is increasingly being asked to do. A lot of our customers have told us that they have much greater expectations for what they expect the network to do: they don’t just want to configure anymore… they want to be able to program it! VCL is being pushed and stretched into things it was never envisaged to do.

These are often the frustrations we hear from customers about the use of VCL. And yet, at the same time, migrations are always hard. Taking thousands of lines of code that have been built up over the years for a mission critical service, and rewriting it from scratch? Nobody wants to do that.

Today, we are excited to announce a solution to all these problems: Turpentine. Turpentine is a true VCL-to-TypeScript converter: it is the easiest and most effective way for you to migrate your legacy Varnish to a modern, Turing-complete programming language and onto the edge. But don’t think that because you’re moving up in terms of language abstraction that you’re giving up performance — it’s the opposite. Turpentine enables porting your VCL-based configuration to Cloudflare Workers — which is known for its speed. Beyond being able to eliminate the use of VCL, Turpentine enables you to take full advantage of Cloudflare: including proxies, firewall, load balancers, tiered caching/shielding and everything else Cloudflare offers.

And you’ll be able to configure it using one of the most widely used languages in the world.
Whether you’re using standard configurations, or have a heavily customized VCL file, Turpentine will generate human-readable and well commented TypeScript code and deploy it to our serverless platform that is… fast.

Announcing Project Turpentine: an easy way to get off Varnish

How It Works

To turn a VCL into TypeScript code that is well optimized, human-readable, and commented, Turpentine takes a three-phase approach:

  1. The VCL is parsed, its meaning is understood, and TypeScript code that preserves its intentions is generated. This is more than transpiling. All the functionality configured in the VCL is rewritten to the best solution available. For example, rate limiting might be custom code on your VCL — but have native functionality on Cloudflare.
  2. The code is cleaned and optimized. During this phase, Turpentine looks for redundancies and inefficiencies, and removes them. Your code will be running on Cloudflare Workers, the fastest serverless platform in the world, and we definitely don’t want to leave behind inefficiencies that would prevent you from enjoying its benefits to the full extent.
  3. The final step is pretty printing. The whole point of this exercise is to make the code easy to understand by as many people as possible on your team — so that virtually any engineer on your team, not just infrastructure experts, can program your network moving forward.

Turpentine in Action

We’ve been perfecting Turpentine in a private beta with some very large customers who have some very complicated VCL files.

Here’s a demo of a VCL file being converted to a Worker:

Legacy to Modern

Happily, this all occurs without the pains of the usual legacy migration. There’s no project plan. No engineers and IT teams trying to replicate each bit of configuration or investigating whether a specific feature even existed.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please register your interest in the sign-up form here — we’d love to explore with you. For now, we’re staying in private beta, so we can walk every new customer through the process. A Cloudflare engineer will help your team get up to speed and comfortable with the new infrastructure.

Announcing Project Turpentine: an easy way to get off Varnish

Discovering what’s slowing down your website with Web Analytics

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/web-analytics-vitals-explorer/

Discovering what’s slowing down your website with Web Analytics

Discovering what’s slowing down your website with Web Analytics

Web Analytics is Cloudflare’s privacy-focused real user measurement solution. It leverages a lightweight JavaScript beacon and does not use any client-side state, such as cookies or localStorage, to collect usage metrics. Nor does it “fingerprint” individuals via their IP address, User Agent string, or any other data.

Cloudflare Web Analytics makes essential web analytics, such as the top-performing pages on your website and top referrers, available to everyone for free, and it’s becoming more powerful than ever.

Focusing on Performance

Earlier this year we merged Web Analytics with our Browser Insights product, which enabled customers proxying their websites through Cloudflare to evaluate visitors’ experience on their web properties through Core Web Vitals such as Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and First Input Delay (FID).

It was important to bring the Core Web Vitals performance measurements into Web Analytics given the outsized impact that page load times have on bounce rates. A page load time increase from 1s to 3s increases bounce rates by 32% and from 1s to 6s increases it by 106% (source).

Now that you know the impact a slow-loading web page can have on your visitors, it’s time for us to make it a no-brainer to take action. Read on.

Becoming Action-Oriented

We believe that, to deliver the most value to our users, the product should facilitate the following process:

  1. Measure the real user experience
  2. Grade this experience — is it satisfactory or in need of improvement?
  3. Provide actionable insights — what part of the web page should be tweaked to improve the user experience?
  4. Repeat
Discovering what’s slowing down your website with Web Analytics

And it all starts with Web Analytics Vitals Explorer, which started rolling out today.

Introducing Web Analytics Vitals Explorer

Vitals Explorer enables you to easily pinpoint which elements on your pages are affecting users the most, with accurate measurements from the visitors perspective and an easy-to-read impact grading.

To do that, we have automatically updated the Web Analytics JavaScript beacon so that it collects the relevant vital measurements from the browser. As always, we are not collecting any information that would invade your visitors’ privacy.

Usage

Once this new beacon is updated on your sites — and again the update will happen transparently to you — you can then navigate to the Core Web Vitals page on Web Analytics. When entering that page, you will see three graphs grading the user experience for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Below each graph you can see the debug section with the top five elements with a negative impact on the metric. Lastly, when clicking on either of these elements shown in the data table, you will be presented with its impact and exact paths so that you can easily decide whether this is worth keeping on your website in its current format.

Discovering what’s slowing down your website with Web Analytics

In addition to this new Core Web Vitals content, we have also added First Paint and First Contentful Paint to the Page Load Time page. When you navigate to this page you will now see the page load summary and a graph representing page load timing. These will allow you to quickly identify any regressions to these important performance metrics.

Discovering what’s slowing down your website with Web Analytics

Measurement details

This additional debugging information for Core Web Vitals is measured during the lifespan of the page (until the user leaves the tab or closes the browser window, which updates visibilityState to a hidden state).

Here’s what we collect:

Common for all Core Web Vitals

  • Element is a CSS selector representing the DOM node. With this string, the developer can use `document.querySelector(<element_name>)` in their browser’s dev console to find out which DOM node has a negative impact on your scores/values.
  • Path is the URL path at the time the Core Web Vitals are captured.
  • Value is the metric value for each Core Web Vitals. This value is in milliseconds for LCP or FID and a score for CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift).

Largest Contentful Paint

  • URL is the source URL (such as image, text, web fonts).
  • Size is the source object’s size in bytes.

First Input Delay

  • Name is the type of event (such as mousedown, keydown, pointerdown).

Cumulative Layout Shift

Layout information is a JSON value that includes width, height, x axis position, y axis position, left, right, top, and bottom. You are able to observe layout shifts that happen on the page by observing these values.

  • CurrentRect is the largest source element’s layout information after the shift. This JSON value is shown as Current under Layout Shifts section in the Web Analytics UI.
  • PreviousRect is the largest source element’s layout information before the shift. This JSON value is shown as Previous under Layout Shifts section in the Web Analytics UI.

Paint Timings

Additionally, we have added two important paint timings

  • First Paint is the time between navigation and when the browser renders the first pixels to the screen.
  • First Contentful Paint is the time when the browser renders the first bit of content from the DOM.

A lot of this is based on standard browser measurements, which you can read about in detail on this blog post from Google.

Moving forward

And we are by no means done. Moving forward, we will bring this structured approach with grading and actionable insights into as Web Analytics measurements as possible, and keep guiding you through how to improve your visitors’ experience. So stay tuned.
And in the meantime, do let us know what you think about this feature and ask questions on the community forums.

Working with those who protect human rights around the world

Post Syndicated from Joao Sousa Botto original https://blog.cloudflare.com/working-with-those-who-protect-human-rights-around-the-world/

Working with those who protect human rights around the world

Working with those who protect human rights around the world

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increasing use of Internet shutdowns and cyberattacks that restrict the availability of information in communities around the world. In 2020, Access Now’s #KeepItOn coalition documented at least 155 Internet shutdowns in 29 countries. During the same period, Cloudflare witnessed a five-fold increase in cyberattacks against the human rights, journalism, and non-profit websites that benefit from the protection of Project Galileo.

These disruptive measures, which put up barriers to those looking to use the Internet to express themselves, earn a livelihood, gather and disseminate information, and participate in public life,  affect the lives of millions of people around the world.

As described by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Internet is not only a key means by which individuals exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, it “facilitates the realization of a range of other human rights” including “economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education and the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, as well as civil and political rights, such as the rights to freedom of association and assembly.” The effect of Internet disruptions are particularly profound during elections, as they disrupt the dissemination and sharing of information about electoral contests and undermine the integrity of the democratic process.

At Cloudflare, we’ve spent time talking to human rights defenders who push back on governments that shut down the Internet to stifle dissent, and on those who help encourage fair, democratic elections around the world. Although we’ve long protected those defenders from cyberattacks with programs like Project Galileo, we thought we could do more. That is why today, we are announcing new programs to help our civil society partners track and document Internet shutdowns and protect democratic elections around the world from cyberattacks.

Radar Alerts

Internet shutdowns intended to prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online are widely condemned, and have been described as “measures that can never be justified under human rights law.” Nonetheless, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association recently reported that Internet shutdowns have increased in length, scale, and sophistication, and have become increasingly challenging to detect. From January 2019 through May 2021, the #KeepItOn coalition documented at least 79 incidents of protest-related shutdowns, including in the context of elections.

Cloudflare runs one of the world’s largest networks, with data centers in more than 100 countries worldwide and one billion unique IP addresses connecting to Cloudflare’s network. That global network gives us exceptional visibility into Internet traffic patterns, including the variations in traffic that signal network anomalies. To help provide insight to these Internet trends, Cloudflare launched Radar in 2020, a platform that helps anyone see how the Internet is being used around the globe. In Radar one can visually identify significant drops in traffic, typically associated with an Internet shutdown, but these trend graphs are most helpful when one is already looking for something specific.

Working with those who protect human rights around the world
Radar chart for Internet Traffic in Uganda, showing a significant change for January 13-15

Internally Cloudflare has had an alert system for potential Internet disruptions, that we use as an early warning to shifts in network patterns and incidents. This internal system allows us to see these disruptions in real-time, and after many conversations with civil society groups that track and report these shutdowns, such as The Carter Center, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Internet Society, Internews, The National Democratic Institute and Access Now, it was clear that they would benefit from such a system, fine-tuned to report Internet traffic drops quickly and reliably. We then built an additional validation layer and a notification system that sends notifications through various channels, including e-mail and social media.

“In the fight to end internet shutdowns, our community needs accurate reports on internet disruptions at a global scale. When leading companies like Cloudflare share their data and insights, we can make more timely interventions. Together with civil society, Cloudflare will help #KeepItOn.”
Peter Micek, General Counsel, Access Now

“Internet shutdowns undermine election integrity by restricting the right of access to information and freedom of expression. When shutdowns are enacted, reports of their occurrence are often anecdotal, piecemeal, and difficult to substantiate. Radar Alerts provide The Carter Center with real-time information about the occurrence, breadth, and impact of shutdowns on an election process. This information enables The Carter Center to issue evidence-backed statements to substantiate harms to election integrity and demand the restoration of fundamental human rights.”
Michael Baldassaro, Senior Advisor, Digital Threats to Democracy at The Carter Center.

“Internet censorship, throttling and shutdowns are threats to an open Internet and to the ability of people to access and produce trustworthy information. Internews is excited to see Cloudflare share its data to help raise the visibility of shutdowns around the world.”
Jon Camfield, Director of Global Technological Strategy, Internews

Working with those who protect human rights around the world

Now, as we detect these drops in traffic, we may still not have the expertise, backstory or sense of what is happening on the ground when this occurs — at least not in as much detail as our partners. We are excited to be working with these organizations to provide alerts on when Cloudflare has detected significant drops in traffic with the hope that the information is used to document, track and hold institutions accountable for these human rights violations.

If you are an organization that tracks and reports on Internet shutdowns and would like to join the private beta, please contact [email protected] and follow the Cloudflare Radar alert Twitter page.