insights

The Day GoDaddy Went Down

By: | September 13th, 2012

GoDaddy, which calls itself “the largest hosting provider of secure websites in the world,” hosts 53 million domain names worldwide, many of which belong to small businesses. Many millions more that host elsewhere use GoDaddy for their DNS service.

On Monday, September 10, somebody or something took GoDaddy down – and with it millions of websites and email accounts throughout the world. The many GoDaddy customers that do business only online and through email saw their businesses come to a full stop.

After about five hours, most clients were back online, but not without some ill will toward the company.

 

  What really happened?

 

As an Atlanta website design firm with many clients whose livelihoods depend on their websites, we decided to look into this further.

Initially, a computer hacker in Brazil claimed credit on Twitter for the outage. In broken English, he claimed to have nothing against GoDaddy. But what about the millions of businesses and individuals he affected? Of course, he didn’t say.

GoDaddy blamed another cause for the outage.

In a letter to customers on Wednesday, CEO Scott Wagner apologized and said there was no hacker at all. The outage was the fault of an internal failure at GoDaddy.

“The service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables,” he wrote.

To make amends, the letter offered a one-month credit of service for each active website owned by the recipient. But it didn’t offer to reimburse customers for the business they lost during the five hours their sites were down and their email not working.

All mea culpas aside, we may never know the truth.

According to various news sources, Ira Victor, a security expert with Data Clone Labs in Nevada, trained in digital forensic incident response (DFIR), said any of three possible causes could have accounted for the outage: a hacker, an internal failure at GoDaddy or even a disgruntled GoDaddy employee.

In the end, we may never know for sure.

“The nature of many of these attacks is that they go low and slow,” he said, “and are very hard to detect.”

The point to take away from all of this is that website security requires constant vigilance and protection. No one is immune from hacking or other security breakdowns.

 

  How secure is your website?

 

To serve our clients better, we offer a very affordable website security protection package, designed for the specific needs and budgets of small businesses. For information on NicheLabs WebsiteWatcher™, please email sales@nichelabs.com or call 866.413.7952.