Earlier today, internet supergiant GoDaddy got hit with a major attack by hacker @AnonymousOwn3r, claiming to be part of the hacktivist group Anonymous.
— Anonymous Own3r (@AnonymousOwn3r) September 10, 2012
The attack, which apparently targeted GoDaddy’s DNS servers, caused potentially millions of websites to be inaccessible and, at the time of this writing, continues to do so.
Even if the motive behind the attack was some “noble cause”, it missed the target. Instead of just targeting the offender, GoDaddy, the attack caused damage to many other innocent websites, many of which rely on the internet for their business. And not only websites were taken down — GoDaddy-hosted email service went down with it, taking down other lines of communication for businesses and individuals.
Other Anonymous “members” have called out @AnonymousOwn3r for the attack, not wanting the group to be associated with it. (AnonymousOwn3r has made it clear the attack is an individual effort, not from the group)
— Anonymous Federation (@AnonFederation) September 10, 2012
Want to know why the “Dump GoDaddy Day” protest worked and got GoDaddy to reverse their stance on SOPA? Because it targeted GoDaddy and not their customers. Clients made it clear they were unhappy, many fled the service, and GoDaddy responded. Internet protests work — crude takedowns do not.
So what can be learned from all this?
Be careful working with a controversial company
Besides being a target because of their sheer size, GoDaddy has a history of controversial actions. This can make them a target for attacks, and today proved you can easily affected as an innocent bystander. Smaller hosts may provide a “safer harbor” and — added bonus — they tend to have terrific customer service!
Nobody is invincible
There’s a reason most web hosts guarantee 99% uptime — it’s impossible to promise 100%. Things can happen, from a massive DOS attack to someone tripping over a power cord. Or maybe, even just a giant storm.
Internet protests can work — massive takedowns will just piss people off
SOPA/PIPA got defeated because the internet banded together and showed what it would be like if the internet could be government censored. Netflix cancelled their plan of splitting the company and creating “Qwikster” because customers started canceling their service in protest. But denying access to millions of innocent websites doesn’t prove any points, it just makes you the target of anger.
By all means, protest GoDaddy. I’m not a fan myself. But protest the company, not their innocent clients.
In the meantime, need a quick way to check if a website you’re trying to access is really down? Is _____ down or is it just me? is a great free tool to check if your network is the problem or not. It even has a easy address to remember: isup.me/domain.com, where domain.com is the address you want to check.
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