Yesterday (December 1st, 2014) there was a massive DDOS attack on DNSimple, our DNS provider, which resulted in our servers, as well as many others, being inaccessible at various times throughout the afternoon. Throughout the attack DNSimple was posting system status messages with information about how they were handling the attack.
What is DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name Servers. All domain names map on to a number called an IP address. The IP address identifies individual servers on the internet. Domain names like yoursite.com are all mapped to IP addresses very much like the contacts in your address book map the names of your friends to their phone numbers.
What is a DDOS attack?
DDOS is a Distributed Denial Of Service attack which is a type of DOS attack where multiple systems which are all infected with a type of malware target a single system, overwhelming it’s ability to process requests.
What went wrong?
On Cyber Monday hackers launched volumetric DDOS attack on DNSimple, our DNS provider. This essentially caused so much congestion on DNSimple’s system that, occasionally, nothing could get through. Our servers and your data were never compromised. In fact, our servers continued to run without any problems all day. The problem was a lot of traffic was unable to reach our servers due to the network congestion caused by the DDOS attack. Using the phone analogy, our phone was working, but the hackers tore up the phone book so we couldn’t get any calls.
This problem not only affected our site but a great many other sites relying on DNSimple’s DNS service.
What’s the status now?
As of 08:17 UTC (3:17 AM EST) DNSimple resolved the problem and their service was fully restored. You can see a complete log of the incident here on their system status page. DNSimple is conducting research with their network provider and will post the results soon. We will be following their reports and reviewing our systems as well to make sure we do all we can to keep things running smoothly.
We’re very sorry for the trouble and recognize that Cyber Monday is awful timing for this sort of problem. That’s probably why the hackers picked that day to target our country.
If you’d like to see online attacks in video game format, checkout IPViking’s live attacks map. This may look vaguely familiar if you ever watched War Games, the 1983 film starring Matthew Broderick.
DNSimple has posted a report of the situation, how it was handled, and what they are doing to improve their system to prevent this type of problem in the future. You can read their report here: DNSimple Incident Report from Cyber Monday DDOS attack