|Type||enterprise, technology company, public company, online service|
|Industry||information and communications technology|
|Services||reverse proxy, edge computing, streaming media, identity management, virtual private network|
|Revenue||US$656.4 million (2021)|
|US$−127.7 million (2021)|
|US$−260.3 million (2021)|
|Total assets||US$2.4 billion (2021)|
|Total equity||US$811.4 million (2021)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Area 1 Security|
Cloudflare, Inc. is an American content delivery network and DDoS mitigation company, founded in 2010. It primarily acts as a reverse proxy between a website's visitor and the Cloudflare customer's hosting provider. Its headquarters are in San Francisco, California.
Cloudflare was founded in September 2010 by Matthew Prince, Lee Holloway, and Michelle Zatlyn. Prince and Holloway had previously collaborated on Project Honey Pot, a product of Unspam Technologies. From 2009, the company was venture-capital funded. On August 15, 2019, Cloudflare submitted its S-1 filing for IPO on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker NET. It opened for public trading on September 13, 2019 at $15 per share.
In 2020, Cloudflare co-founder and COO Michelle Zatlyn was named president, making her one of the few woman presidents of a publicly traded technology company in the U.S.
Cloudflare has acquired web-services and security companies, including StopTheHacker (Feb 2014), CryptoSeal (June 2014), Eager Platform Co. (December 2016), Neumob (November 2017), S2 Systems (January 2020), Linc (December 2020), Zaraz (December 2021), Vectrix (February 2022), and Area 1 Security (February 2022).
Since at least 2017, Cloudflare has been using a wall of lava lamps in their San Francisco headquarters as a source of randomness for encryption keys, alongside double pendulums in its London offices and a geiger counter in its Singapore offices. The lava lamp installation implements the Lavarand method, where a camera transforms the unpredictable shapes of the "lava" blobs into a digital image.
Claims regarding DDoS mitigation
In March 2013, The Spamhaus Project was targeted by a DDoS attack that Cloudflare reported exceeded 300 gigabits per second. Patrick Gilmore, of Akamai, stated that at the time it was "the largest publicly announced DDoS attack in the history of the Internet." While trying to defend Spamhaus against the DDoS attacks, Cloudflare ended up being attacked as well; Google and other companies eventually came to Spamhaus' defense and helped it to absorb the unprecedented amount of attack traffic.
In February 2014, Cloudflare claimed to have mitigated an NTP reflection attack against an unnamed European customer, which they stated peaked at 400 Gbit/s. In November 2014, it reported a 500 Gbit/s DDoS attack in Hong Kong. In June 2020, it mitigated a DDoS attack that peaked at 250 Gbit/s. In July 2021 the company claimed to have absorbed a DDoS attack three times larger than any they'd previously recorded, which their corporate blog implied was over 1.2 Tbit/s in total.
In 2017 Cloudflare launched Cloudflare Workers, a serverless computing platform for creating new applications, augmenting existing ones, without configuring or maintaining infrastructure. It has expanded to include Workers KV, a low-latency key-value data store; Cron Triggers, for scheduling Cron jobs; and additional tooling for developers to deploy and scale their code across the globe.
As of 2020, Cloudflare was providing DNS services to over 100,000 customers.
In 2014, Cloudflare began providing free DDoS mitigation for artists, activists, journalists, and human rights groups under the name "Project Galileo." More than 1,000 users and organizations were participating in Project Galileo as of 2020. In 2017, they extended the service to electoral infrastructure and political campaigns under the name "Athenian Project." In December 2020, Cloudflare released a beta Jamstack platform for front-end developers to deploy websites on Cloudflare's infrastructure, under the name "Pages." In January 2021, the company began providing their "Waiting Room" digital queue product for free for COVID-19 vaccination scheduling under the title "Project Fair Shot." Project Fair Shot later won a Webby People's Choice Award in 2022 for Event Management under the Apps & Software category.
Security and privacy issues
On June 1, 2012, the hacker group UGNazi redirected visitors to the website 4chan to a Twitter account belonging to UGNazi by “hijacking” 4chan’s domain via Cloudflare. After initiating a password recovery for the Google Workspace hosted email account of Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, UGNazi then allegedly used social engineering to trick AT&T support staff into giving them access to his voicemail. Exploiting a bug in Google App’s two-factor authentication security procedures, the hackers allegedly used the voicemail-recovered password to access Prince’s email account without a second layer of authentication. Once in control of Prince’s email account, they were able to redirect the 4chan domain through Cloudflare’s database.
In March 2021, Tillie Kottmann from the hacking collective "Advanced Persistent Threat 69420" demonstrated that the group had gained root shell access to security cameras in Cloudflare offices managed by cloud-based physical security company Verkada after obtaining the credentials of a Verkada superuser account that had been leaked on the Internet. Cloudflare stated that the compromised cameras were in offices that had been officially closed for several months, though the hacking collective also obtained access to Verkada-operated cameras in Cloudflare's offices in New York City, London, Austin and San Francisco. The hacking group told Bloomberg News that it had video archives from all Verkada customers; it accessed footage from Cloudflare's cameras and posted a screenshot of security footage which they said was taken by a Verkada camera in a Cloudflare office.
From September 2016 until February 2017, a major Cloudflare bug (nicknamed Cloudbleed) leaked sensitive data, including passwords and authentication tokens, from customer websites by sending extra data in response to web requests. The leaks resulted from a buffer overflow which occurred, according to numbers provided by Cloudflare at the time, more than 18,000,000 times before the problem was corrected.
In May 2017, ProPublica reported that Cloudflare routinely discloses the names and email addresses of persons complaining about hate sites to the operators of those sites, which has led to the complainants being harassed. Cloudflare's general counsel defended the company's policies by saying it is "base constitutional law that people can face their accusers", and noted that there had been a disclaimer on Cloudflare's complaint form since 2015 stating that they "would notify the site owner." Cloudflare's CEO later suggested that, had people not wanted their names shared, they should have provided a false name on the reporting form.
There was major outage lasting about 30 minutes, on July 2, 2019 attributed to bad software deployment. In 2020, a misconfiguration of a router caused a data pileup and outage in major European cities. Cloudflare experienced another outage in June 2022.
This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutrality by separating out potentially negative information. (October 2021)
Cloudflare has been criticized for not banning websites with hate speech content. The company has said it has a content neutrality policy and that it opposes the policing of its customers on free speech grounds, except in cases where the customers break the law. The company has also faced criticism for not banning websites allegedly connected to terrorism groups, but Cloudflare has maintained that no law enforcement agency has asked the company to discontinue these services and it closely monitors its obligations under U.S. laws.
Free speech debate
Cloudflare has come under pressure on multiple occasions due to its services being utilized to serve controversial content. As Cloudflare is considered an infrastructure provider, rather than a hosting provider, they are able to maintain broad legal immunity for the content served from their customers.
Cloudflare provided DNS routing and DoS protection for the white supremacist and neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer. In 2017 Cloudflare stopped providing its services to The Daily Stormer after an announcement on the controversial website asserted that the "upper echelons" of Cloudflare were "secretly supporters of their ideology". Previously Cloudflare had refused to take any action regarding The Daily Stormer. As a self-described "free speech absolutist", Cloudflare's CEO Matthew Prince, in a blog post, vowed never to succumb to external pressure again and sought to create a "political umbrella" for the future. Prince further addressed the dangers of large companies deciding what is allowed to stay online, a concern that is shared by a number of civil liberties groups and privacy experts. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a US digital rights group, said that services such as Cloudflare "should not be adjudicating what speech is acceptable", adding that "when illegal activity, like inciting violence or defamation, occurs, the proper channel to deal with it is the legal system."
The Huffington Post has documented Cloudflare's services to "at least 7 terrorist groups", as designated by the United States Department of State including the Taliban, Al-Shabaab, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Hamas, Myanmar's military junta, and the al-Quds Brigades. Cloudflare has been aware since at least 2012, and has taken no action. However, according to Cloudflare's CEO, no law enforcement agency has asked the company to discontinue these services. Two of the top three online chat forums and nearly forty other web sites belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are guarded by Cloudflare. According to Prince, U.S. law enforcement has not asked Cloudflare to discontinue the service, and it has not chosen to do so itself. In November 2015, hacktivist group Anonymous discouraged the use of Cloudflare's services following the ISIL attacks in Paris and additional revelations that Cloudflare aids terrorists. Cloudflare responded by calling the group "15-year-old kids in Guy Fawkes masks", and saying that whenever such concerns are raised it consults anti-terrorism experts and abides by the law.
Mass shootings and 8chan
In 2019, Cloudflare was criticized for providing services to the discussion and imageboard 8chan, which allows users to post and discuss any content with minimal interference from site administrators. The message board has been linked to mass shootings in the United States and the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand. In addition, a number of news organizations including The Washington Post and The Daily Dot have reported the existence of child pornography and child sexual abuse discussion boards.
A Cloudflare representative stated that the platform "does not host the referenced websites, cannot block websites, and is not in the business of hiding companies that host illegal content". Cloudflare did not terminate service to 8chan until public and legal pressure in the wake of a copycat shooting of Christchurch mosque shootings in the United States, which used 8chan to publish the associated manifesto. In an interview with The Guardian, immediately following the 2019 El Paso shooting, CEO Matthew Prince defended Cloudflare's support of 8chan, stating that he had a "moral obligation" to keep the site online.
In 2018, Cloudflare was identified by the European Union's Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List as a "notorious market" which engages in, facilitates, or benefits from counterfeiting and piracy. The report noted that Cloudflare hides and anonymizes the operators of 40% of the world's pirate sites, and 62% of the 500 largest such sites, and "does not follow due diligence when opening accounts for websites to prevent illegal sites from using its services." Italian courts have enjoined Cloudflare to cease hosting pirate television service "IPTV THE BEST" after it was found to be infringing the intellectual property of Sky Italy and the Italian football league, and German courts have similarly found that "Cloudflare and its anonymization services attract structurally copyright infringing websites."
Cloudflare has been cited in reports by The Spamhaus Project, an international spam tracking organization, for the high numbers of cybercriminal botnet operations hosted by Cloudflare. An October 2015 report found that Cloudflare provisioned 40% of the SSL certificates used by typosquatting phishing sites, which use deceptive domain names resembling those of banks and payment processors to compromise Internet users' banking and other transactions.
Reaction to 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
After Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022 Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov and others called on Cloudflare to stop providing its services in the Russian market amidst reports that Russia-linked websites spreading disinformation were using the company’s content delivery network services. Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince responded that “[i]ndiscriminately terminating service would do little to harm the Russian government but would both limit [Russian citizens’] access to information outside the country and make significantly more vulnerable those who have used us to shield themselves as they have criticized the government.” The company later said it had minimal sales and commercial activity in Russia and had "terminated any customers we have identified as tied to sanctioned entities."
- "Cloudflare, Inc. 2021 Annual Report (Form 10-K)". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. March 1, 2022. pp. 16, 93–94.
- Clifford, Tyler (October 6, 2020). "Cloudflare CEO: Dozens of U.S. states are using Athenian Project for election security". CNBC. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- Perlroth, Nicole (February 17, 2012). "Search Bits SEARCH Preparing for DDoS Attacks or Just Groundhog Day". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- Durant, Richard (May 19, 2020). "Cloudflare: Thinking Big". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
- Werle, Klaus (December 8, 2011). "Q&A with Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder of CloudFlare". SFGate.
The San Francisco startup, established in September 2010, is working to make websites faster.
- Lagorio-Chafkin, Christine (November 6, 2020). "Why the CEO of a $350 Million Internet Security Company Practices Radical Transparency". Inc.
Matthew Prince founded Cloudflare along with Lee Holloway and Michelle Zatlyn in 2010.
- "Cloudflare, in its IPO filing, thanks a third co-founder: Lee Holloway". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- Kawamoto, Dawn (March 12, 2019). "Cloudflare's $150 million funding round puts its IPO plans in question". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved March 12, 2019. (Subscription required.)
- Shieber, Jonathan (August 15, 2019). "Cloudflare files for initial public offering". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Loizos, Connie (September 13, 2019). "Cloudflare co-founder Michelle Zatlyn on the company's IPO today, its unique dual class structure, and what's next". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
- Mehta, Stephanie (December 17, 2020). "Exclusive: Cloudflare promotes Michelle Zatlyn to president, a gain for women in tech". Fast Company. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
- "Fresh off IPO, this high-profile Bay Area cloud company just snapped up a browser isolation company". bizjournals.com. January 7, 2020. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
- Tung, Liam (June 19, 2014). "CloudFlare acquires VPN service CryptoSeal, shuts it down". ZDNet.
- "Cloudflare acquires app platform Eager, will sunset service in Q1 2017". VentureBeat. December 13, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
- Miller, Ron (November 14, 2017). "Neumob acquisition gives Cloudflare missing mobile component – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
- Miller, Ron (January 7, 2020). "Cloudflare acquires stealthy startup S2 Systems, announces Cloudflare for Teams – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
- Wiggers, Kyle (December 22, 2020). "Cloudflare acquires Linc to automate web app deployment". VentureBeat. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
- "Cloudflare Acquires Zaraz to Boost Website Speed and Security Without Sacrificing Privacy". yahoo.com. December 8, 2021.
- "Cloudflare Acquires Vectrix to Help Businesses Gain Visibility and Control of Their Applications". ITSecurityWire. February 11, 2022. Retrieved February 11, 2022.
- Charlotte Trueman (March 23, 2022). "Noteworthy tech acquisitions 2022". Computer Weekly. Retrieved March 25, 2022.
- Schwab, Katharine (August 18, 2017). "The Hardest Working Office Design In America Encrypts Your Data–With Lava Lamps". Fast Company. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
- "LavaRand in Production: The Nitty-Gritty Technical Details". The Cloudflare Blog. November 6, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
- Hesseldahl, Arik (June 10, 2011). "Web Security Start-Up Cloudflare Gets Buzz, Courtesy of LulzSec Hackers". All Things Digital. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Storm, Darlene (March 27, 2013). "Biggest DDoS attack in history slows Internet, breaks record at 300 Gbps". Computerworld. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Markoff, John; Perlroth, Nicole (March 26, 2013). "Online Dispute Becomes Internet-Snarling Attack". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Gayomali, Chris (January 9, 2015). "The biggest cyberattack in Internet history is happening right now". The Week.
- Musil, Steven (February 11, 2014). "Record-breaking DDoS attack in Europe hits 400 Gbit/s". Clnet.
- Gallagher, Sean (February 11, 2014). "Biggest DDoS ever aimed at Cloudflare's content delivery network". Ars Technica. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
- Olson, Parmy (November 20, 2014). "The Largest Cyber Attack in History Has Been Hitting Hong Kong Sites". Forbes. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- "'DDoS-For-Hire' Is Fueling a New Wave of Attacks". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- Greig, Jonathan. "Cloudflare says it stopped the largest DDoS attack ever reported". ZDNet. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
- Osborne, Charlie (April 28, 2016). "Cloudflare figured out how to make the Web one second faster". ZDNet. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
- Kincaid, Jason (September 27, 2010). "Cloudflare Wants To Be A CDN For The Masses (And Takes Five Minutes To Set Up)". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
- "Cloudflare creates Workers Unbound platform for serverless development". datacenternews.asia. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Humphries, Matthew (September 26, 2019). "Cloudflare Finally Launches WARP, But It's Not a Mobile VPN". PCMAG. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
- Wagenseil, Paul (September 26, 2019). "WARP Promises Faster Speeds on Your Phone Without 5G, but Doesn't Quite Deliver Yet". Tom's Guide. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
- Henshaw, Jon (September 2020). "Cloudflare launches beta of 220.127.116.11 VPN with WARP for macOS and Windows". Coywolf.
- Witkowski, Wallace. "Cloudflare stock rallies on better-than-expected results, outlook". MarketWatch. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- "Cloudflare for Teams: Protecting corporations without sacrificing performance". Help Net Security. January 8, 2020. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
- "Cloudflare gets serious about infrastructure services". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
- Newman, Lily Hay (June 12, 2019). "Cloudflare's Five-Year Project to Protect Nonprofits Online". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
- Melendez, Steven (June 11, 2020). "Amid pandemic and protests, Cloudflare is defending vulnerable websites". Fast Company. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
- Clifford, Tyler (October 6, 2020). "Cloudflare CEO: Dozens of U.S. states are using Athenian Project for election security". CNBC. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
- Melendez, Steven (June 11, 2020). "Amid pandemic and protests, Cloudflare is defending vulnerable websites". Fast Company. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- Hatmaker, Taylor (July 19, 2018). "Cloudflare Recruits State and Local Governments for Free Election Site Security Programs". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
- Dillet, Romain (December 17, 2020). "Cloudflare launches Cloudflare Pages, a platform to deploy and host JAMstack sites". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Etherington, Darrell (January 22, 2021). "Cloudflare introduces free digital waiting rooms for any organizations distributing COVID-19 vaccines". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
- "Cloudflare's Project Fair Shot". The Webby Awards. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
- Simcoe, Luke (June 14, 2012). "The 4chan breach: How hackers got a password through voicemail". Maclean's. Archived from the original on January 15, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Smith, Ms. (June 3, 2012). "Hacktivists UGNazi attack 4chan, Cloudflare and Wounded Warrior Project". Privacy and Security Fanatic. NetworkWorld. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Turton, William (March 9, 2021). "Hackers Breach Thousands of Security Cameras, Exposing Tesla, Jails, Hospitals". Bloomberg. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
- Goodin, Dan (March 10, 2020). "Hackers access security cameras inside Cloudflare, jails, and hospitals". Ars Technica.
- Gartenberg, Chaim (March 9, 2021). "Security startup Verkada hack exposes 150,000 security cameras in Tesla factories, jails, and more". The Verge.
- Patterson, Dan (May 10, 2021). "Hack of video security company Verkada exposes footage from 150,000 connected cameras". CBS News.
- Lucas, Manfredi (March 9, 2021). "Tesla, Equinox, Cloudflare among victims in hack exposing over 150,000 security cameras". FOX Business.
- Murdock, Jason (March 10, 2021). "Twitter Suspends Verkada Hacker Tillie Kottman's Account After Tesla Security Footage Leak". Newsweek.
- Conger, Kate (February 23, 2017). "Major Cloudflare bug leaked sensitive data from customers' websites". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Steinberg, Joseph (February 24, 2017). "Why You Can Ignore Calls To Change Your Passwords After Today's Massive Password Leak Announcement". Inc. Retrieved February 24, 2017.
- Molina, Brett (February 28, 2017). "Cloudfare bug: Yes, you should change your passwords". USA Today. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
- Schwencke, Ken (May 4, 2017). "How One Major Internet Company Helps Serve Up Hate on the Web". ProPublica. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
Cloudflare provides services to neo-Nazi sites like The Daily Stormer, including giving them personal information on people who complain about their content. The widespread use of Cloudflare's services by racist groups is not an accident. Cloudflare has said it will not deny its services to even the most offensive purveyors of hate. "A website is speech. It is not a bomb," Cloudflare's CEO Matthew Prince wrote. "There is no imminent danger it creates and no provider has an affirmative obligation to monitor and make determinations about the theoretically harmful nature of speech a site may contain." Cloudflare also has an added appeal to sites such as The Daily Stormer. It turns over to the hate sites the personal information of people who criticize their content.
- "Internet security CEO explains why harassed complainants should've used fake names". South China Morning Post. May 9, 2017. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
- Heater, Brian (July 2, 2019). "Cloudflare blames 'bad software' deployment for today's outage". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
- Villas-Boas, Antonio (July 2, 2019). "Major websites and services across the internet went down Tuesday because of a cloud network outage". Business Insider. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
- Woods, Ben (June 9, 2021). "How a tiny US firm caused world's biggest websites to crash in a day of chaos". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
- Porter, Jon (June 21, 2022). "Cloudflare outage breaks large swathes of the internet". The Verge. Archived from the original on June 21, 2022. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
- Hill, Kashmir (August 17, 2014). "The Company Keeping Your Favorite (And Least Favorite) Websites Online". Forbes. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- "CloudFlare CEO blasts Anonymous claims of ISIS terrorist support". The Register. November 18, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
- Peterson, Becky (August 17, 2017). "Cloudflare CEO explains his emotional decision to punt The Daily Stormer and subject it to hackers: I woke up 'in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet'". Business Insider. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- "Web services firm CloudFlare accused by Anonymous of helping Isis". The Guardian. November 19, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
- Lee, Timothy B. (August 31, 2017). "Tech companies declare war on hate speech—and conservatives are worried". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
- Wong, Julia Carrie (August 28, 2017). "The far right is losing its ability to speak freely online. Should the left defend it?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
Matthew Prince had the power to kill the white supremacist hate site the Daily Stormer for years, but he didn't choose to.
- Captain, Sean (February 27, 2019). "Is Cloudflare a privacy champion or hate speech enabler? Depends who you ask". Fast Company. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Cloudflare is regularly shamed for enabling repulsive groups by helping them provide a better internet experience to their followers. In October 2018, Cloudflare stood out by continuing to support the chat platform Gab–infamous for racist chatter, including a post by Robert Bowers, who was charged with murdering 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 27. Infrastructure companies like Joyent and GoDaddy dropped the site. But Cloudflare held on and continues to support Gab.
- Lee, Timothy B. (December 4, 2017). "Cloudflare's CEO has a plan to never censor hate speech again". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince hated cutting off service to the infamous neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer in August. And he's determined not to do it again. The problem was that other Cloudflare customers started calling and threatening to cancel their service if Cloudflare didn't cut the Daily Stormer off. "The pressure to take it down just kept building and building," Prince told Ars. "We thought that was the wrong policy. We reached out to various civil libertarian organizations and said we need some air cover here. People said 'we'd rather not stick our necks out on this issue.'" So, Prince said, "we needed to change the conversation."
- Johnson, Steven (January 16, 2018). "Inside Cloudflare's Decision to Let an Extremist Stronghold Burn". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Keegan Hankes, an analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, denounced Cloudflare for "optimizing the content of at least 48 hate websites." Those sites included Stormfront and the Daily Stormer. Hankes and the SPLC weren't accusing Cloudflare of spouting racist ideology itself, it was more that Cloudflare was acting like the muscle guarding the podium at a Nazi rally. Matthew Prince didn't bother responding to the SPLC's pointed accusation. In fact, he has only the haziest recollection of hearing about it. He might have seen a mention on Twitter. He's not sure. But for Prince the criticism was nothing new. At Cloudflare, he was in the business of protecting all kinds of clients, including some whose views vaulted way outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse. He’d already been accused of helping copyright violators, sex workers, ISIS, and a litany of other deplorables. It was hardly a surprise to him that neo-Nazis would be added to the list.
- Peterson, Becky (August 17, 2017). "Cloudflare CEO explains his emotional decision to punt The Daily Stormer and subject it to hackers: I woke up 'in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet'". Business Insider. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
While Cloudflare may have been The Daily Stormer's last line of defense, Prince's decision didn't actually take the company's site offline by itself. Earlier in the week, both GoDaddy and Google publicly announced they had dropped The Daily Stormer as a customer of their domain-hosting services.
- Citron, Danielle Keats (November 28, 2017). "What to Do about the Emerging Threat of Censorship Creep on the Internet" (PDF). Cato Institute. No. 282: 3–4 – via Cato.org.
- Keller, Daphne (August 15, 2017). "The Daily Stormer, Online Speech, and Internet Registrars". The Center for Internet and Society. Stanford Law School. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
- Shaban, Hamza (August 18, 2017). "Banning neo-Nazis online may be slippery slope, tech group warns Silicon Valley". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
- Jones, Rhett (December 14, 2018). "Cloudflare Under Fire for Allegedly Providing DDoS Protection for Terrorist Websites". Gizmodo. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Cloudflare is facing accusations that it's providing cybersecurity protection for at least seven terrorist organizations—a situation that some legal experts say could put it in legal jeopardy.
- Cook, Jesselyn (December 14, 2018). "U.S. Tech Giant Cloudflare Provides Cybersecurity For at Least 7 Terror Groups: Among its customers are the Taliban, al-Shabab and Hamas". HuffPost. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Among Cloudflare's customers are groups that are on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas – as well as the Taliban, which, like the other groups, is sanctioned by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These organizations own and operate active websites that are protected by Cloudflare, according to four national security and counterextremism experts. In the United States, it's a crime to knowingly provide tangible or intangible "material support" to a designated foreign terrorist organization or to provide service to an OFAC-sanctioned entity without special permission. Cloudflare, which is not authorized by the OFAC to do business with such organizations, has been informed on multiple occasions, dating back to at least 2012, that it is shielding terrorist groups behind its network, and it continues to do so.
- "Controversial US infosec firm Cloudflare is providing potentially sanctions-busting services to Myanmar's military junta". Bofa on Insecurity. March 11, 2021. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
In what is a likely violation of current US Treasury sanctions, the Junta also appears to be using the services of controversial US security company Cloudflare to protect themselves from more leaks, with at least five government websites geo-blocked to make them inaccessible outside Myanmar.
- Kohlmann, Evan F. (January 27, 2015). "Charlie Hebdo and the Jihadi Online Network: Assessing the Role of American Commercial Social Media Platforms" (PDF). United States House of Representatives. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
How does ISIS manage to reliably operate its own official proprietary dot-com social media platform on the Internet in order to disseminate videos such as the beheading of James Foley and the "martyrdom" will of Amedy Coulibaly? The answer is San Francisco-based American tech company Cloudflare. Two of ISIS’ top three online chat forums—including the notorious Alplatformmedia.com—are currently guarded by Cloudflare. It is extremely difficult to reconcile the paradox that it is illegal to give pro-bono assistance to a terrorist group, but it is perfectly legal for Cloudflare to commercially profit from a terrorist group by assisting them to communicate securely with recruits and to publicly disseminate recordings of mass murder.
- Hern, Alex (November 19, 2015). "Web services firm Cloudflare accused by Anonymous of helping Isis". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
The week before the Paris attacks, Ghost Security counted almost 40 ISIS websites that use Cloudflare's services. According to GhostSec, 34 were propaganda websites, four were discussion forums, and two offered technical services.
- Hackett, Robert (November 18, 2015). "Anonymous' Gripes About ISIS Are 'Absurd,' CEO says". Fortune. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
- Wong, Julia Carrie (August 4, 2019). "8chan: the far-right website linked to the rise in hate crimes". The Guardian. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Protection from Cloudflare: 8chan would have difficultly operating if it didn’t receive protection from Cloudflare, a US-based company that provides internet infrastructure services to websites. Cloudflare faced renewed public pressure over its protection of 8chan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. And in a phone interview with The Guardian on Saturday night, Prince reiterated his belief that Cloudflare should not cease to provide services to sites such as 8chan based on their content.
- Mezzofiore, Gianluca; O'Sullivan, Donie (August 5, 2019). "El Paso shooting is at least the third atrocity linked to 8chan this year". CNN. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
- Roose, Kevin (August 4, 2019). "8chan Is a Megaphone for Gunmen. 'Shut the Site Down,' Says Its Creator". The New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
- O'Neill, Patrick Howell (November 17, 2014). "8chan, the central hive of Gamergate, is also an active pedophile network". The Daily Dot. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
On numerous public forums, 8chan users share graphic images of children, plus links to hardcore child pornography.
- Machkovech, Sam (August 17, 2015). "8chan-hosted content disappears from Google searches: Domain-specific searches contain warning about "suspected child abuse content."". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
- Dewey, Caitlin (January 13, 2015). "This is what happens when you create an online community without any rules". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
When a number of people reported 8chan's active pedophilia boards to Cloudflare, the company that protects the site from malicious traffic, Brennan took screenshots of their names and e-mail addresses and tweeted them publicly.
- "Cloudflare embroiled in child abuse row". BBC News. October 22, 2019. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
Cloudflare helps websites host illegal content. The company insists it is powerless because it does not actually host the offending sites. Campaigners say Cloudflare's services make it easier for clients to avoid detection by "hiding" their locations.
- Kelly, Makena (August 4, 2019). "Cloudflare to revoke 8chan's service, opening the fringe website up for DDoS attacks". The Verge. Archived from the original on August 5, 2019. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
Saturday's shooting in El Paso, where at least 20 people were killed and two dozen injured, is the third mass shooting linked to both 8chan and white nationalist ideology this year. The first, in Christchurch, New Zealand, brought the fringe website into the mainstream discussion back in April, but Cloudflare declined to revoke its service.
- Uebele, Hannah (August 6, 2019). "El Paso: When Freedom Of Speech Turns Violent". WGBH. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
- Collins, Ben (August 4, 2019). "Investigators 'reasonably confident' Texas suspect left anti-immigrant screed". NBC News. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
The screed posted to the anonymous extremist message board railed against immigrants in Texas and pushed talking points about preserving European identity in America. The attack left at least 20 dead and 26 injured.
- Wong, Julia Carrie (August 3, 2019). "8chan: the far-right website linked to the rise in hate crimes". The Guardian. London. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
Three attackers in six months allegedly posted their plans on the site in advance. 8chan would have difficultly operating if it didn't receive protection from a company called Cloudflare. Cloudflare faced renewed public pressure over its protection of 8chan in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. CEO Matthew Prince explains his "moral obligation" to keep 8chan online and reiterated his belief that Cloudflare should not cease to provide services to sites such as 8chan based on their content.
- "Terminating Service for 8Chan". August 5, 2019.
- "8chan goes dark after hardware provider discontinues service". August 5, 2019.
- Yadron, Danny (September 29, 2014). "Cloudflare Pushes More Encrypted Web". The Wall Street Journal. New York. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Kovacs, Eduard (March 17, 2014). "Underground Payment Card Store Rescator Hacked and Defaced". Softpedia News. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Krebs, Brian (January 15, 2015). "Spreading the Disease and Selling the Cure". Krebs on Security. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
booter services are proliferating thanks mainly to services offered by Cloudflare, a CDN that protects virtually all of the booter services currently online. That includes the Lizardstresser, the attack service which took the Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation networks offline on Christmas Day 2014. Most booter services probably would not be able to remain in business without Cloudflare. The Web site crimeflare.com, which tracks abusive sites that hide behind Cloudflare, has cataloged more than 200 DDoS-for-hire sites using Cloudflare.
- "Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List" (PDF). The European Commission. December 7, 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
CloudFlare is used by approximately 40% of the pirate websites in the world. It operates as a front host between the user and the website's back host, routing and filtering all content through its network of servers. Out of the top 500 infringing domains based on global Alexa rankings, 62% use CloudFlare.
- Maxwell, Andy (December 10, 2018). "New EU Piracy Watchlist Targets Key Pirate Sites and Cloudflare". TorrentFreak. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
The EU has published its debut 'Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List' based on consultations with stakeholders, decisions handed down against sites by national courts, the UK's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit's infringing website list, Google's Transparency Report, plus various Europol assessments. It lists sites, services, and other players who allegedly engage in, facilitate or benefit from counterfeiting and piracy. Cloudflare is accused of offering services to approximately 40% of the world's pirate sites, helping to anonymize their operators and hide sites’ true hosts.
- Van der Sar, Ernesto (October 14, 2020). "Italian Court Orders Cloudflare to Block a Pirate IPTV Service". TorrentFreak. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
Many copyright holders have complained that Cloudflare does little to nothing to stop pirate sites from using its services. The company receives numerous DMCA notices but aside from forwarding these to the affected customers, it takes no action.
- Nordemann, Jan Bernd (July 12, 2021). "Duties of DNS resolvers and CDN providers – the CoA Cologne finds Cloudflare accountable". Wolters Kluwer. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
According to a recent Cologne Court of Appeal ruling, providers may be held accountable to block websites which run an illegal business model dedicated to copyright infringements. Additionally, CDNs have a duty to stop the use of their services for such rogue websites. In this case, Cloudflare provided both DNS resolver and CDN services to the rogue website ddl.music.to. Cloudflare and its anonymization services attract structurally copyright infringing websites.
- "Spamhaus Botnet Threat Report Q1-2020, ISPs hosting botnet C&Cs". The Spamhaus Project. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "Cloudflare and Spamhaus". Word to the Wise. July 16, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
- "The Spamhaus Project". The Spamhaus Project. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
- Edgecombe, Graham (October 12, 2015). "Certificate authorities issue SSL certificates to fraudsters". Netcraft. Retrieved October 14, 2015.
- Timberg, Craig; Zakrzewski, Cat; Menn, Joseph (March 4, 2022). "A new iron curtain is descending across Russia's Internet". Washington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
- Moore, Logan; Vanjani, Karishma (March 25, 2022). "These Companies Haven't Left Russia. Behind Their Decisions to Stay". Barrons. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
- Stone, Jeff; Gallagher, Ryan (March 8, 2022). "Cloudflare Rebuffs Ukraine Requests to Stop Working With Russia". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
- Brodkin, Jon (March 8, 2022). "Cloudflare refuses to pull out of Russia, says Putin would celebrate shutoff". Ars Technica. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
- Morrow, Allison (May 26, 2022). "Crypto is dead. Long live crypto: Davos Dispatch". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
- "CloudFlare Teams Up With 15 NGOs To Protect Citizen Journalists And Activists From DDoS Attacks". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 26, 2022.
- Garson, Melanie; Furlong, Pete (May 2022). "Disrupters and Defenders: What the Ukraine War Has Taught Us About the Power of Global Tech Companies". Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
- Official website
- Business data for Cloudflare, Inc.: