Here is what is known. GoDaddy, the largest Hosting and Domain Registrar in the world, came under attack this afternoon. The attack appears to have been perpetrated by the cyber terrorist group Anonymous. There is some information on the group's Twitter feed that suggests that the attack was the work of only one member of the organization. Not that it matters a great deal.
The attack targeted GoDaddy's DNS System which is responsible for translating domain names such as www.yourdomain.com to an IP address such as 111.222.333.444. This is a critical first step in any web inquiry.
This was a Distributed Denial Of Service ( DDOS ) attack. In simple terms, the attacker spreads a virus to thousands, perhaps millions, of unsuspecting computers. At some predetermined moment, or in response to some condition, all these computers "wake up" and start making simultaneous requests of a single resource, in this case the GoDaddy DNS System. The large volume of simultaneous requests from all corners of the globe simply overwhelms the system, thereby blocking ( denying ) legitimate traffic.
The motivation given for the attack was some vague claim about GoDaddy promoting web censorship. This is just noise. Likely this was done simply to show that it could be done. This is a common motive.
The attack lasted from around 3:00pm to nearly 6:00pm Eastern time on 9/10/2012, one day shy of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Client Data was not affected by the attack.
It is important to note that that Cairn's clients are not hosted at GoDaddy, so no data was at risk during the attack. Cairn does, however, use GoDaddy to register domain names. Their DNS servers are critical to the operation of many of our client's sites. As a result, many Cairn clients were affected by the attack.
Should we have our own DNS Service?
Our knee jerk reaction is to wonder about the feasibility, expense, benefits and drawbacks of operating an independent DNS look up system. GoDaddy has been a reliable provider up to now and to their credit, they appear to have gotten the situation in hand fairly quickly. Should this happen again, however, our wondering will become more urgent.
Please feel free to call the office with any questions.