Yesterday, a disturbing trend ran through a series of websites hosted by the popular hosting service, GoDaddy. Many of them were offline. GoDaddy's site, too, faced some intermittent outages, and the culprit who stepped forward to claim responsibility was a somewhat familiar one.
It was later determined that the sites, including not only GoDaddy's main site but some sites that used its DNS services to register, were down thanks to a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.
The attack began shortly after 1 p.m. EDT yesterday, and carried on throughout much of the day, causing an unknown amount of damage in terms of lost site hits, ad click-throughs and reputation.
Taking credit for the assault was the Twitter (News - Alert) account, “AnonymousOwn3r,” which lead many to believe that, once again, the Anonymous hacking collective had struck, and struck big. But AnonymousOwn3r later tweeted saying that it was not the work of Anonymous the collective, but rather, just himself, who later admitted that he sought to "test how the cyber security is safe and for more reasons that i can not talk now."
AnonymousOwn3r also reportedly answered some questions in Portuguese, and mentioned being from Brazil. A YouTube (News - Alert) video also emerged which cited GoDaddy's support of measures like SOPA, though whether or not that was actually an Anonymous effort is unclear.
GoDaddy released regular tweets throughout the day expressing apology for the outages and the accompanying frustration, though any promises of refunds for the outage or credit for the lost advertising revenue weren't forthcoming. At last report, however, no customer data had been revealed, and most sites were back online.
The specter of Anonymous has been present with most of the computer security community, especially following last year's dramatic hacking of Sony, which resulted in a loss of several Sony services, from the PlayStation Network on. The thought that they might have come back, and to a major service like GoDaddy, had to leave its mark.
But though it wasn't specifically Anonymous this time – and given the nature of Anonymous it's hard to really tell if it is – it easily could have been.
It's a clear reminder to keep antivirals and passwords up to date, watch credit card statements closely, and practice all those standards of safe computing, even if in some cases such measures are of limited, if any effect.
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Edited by Braden Becker