GCHQ website falls after threats from Anonymous

GCHQ's website at www.gchq.gov.uk is exhibiting some noticeable performance issues today, suggesting that it could be suffering from a denial of service attack.

Last week, documents from whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that GCHQ carried out denial of service (DoS) attacks against communications systems used by the hacktivist group Anonymous during their own Operation Payback, which itself involved carrying out denial of service attacks against high profile websites such as MasterCard, Visa, Amazon, Moneybookers, and PostFinance.

This caused some furore amongst supporters of Operation Payback, some of whom were tried and convicted for carrying out denial of service attacks. Denial of service attacks are illegal in the UK under the Police and Justice Act 2006, yet the leaked slides suggest that GCHQ may have used such techniques against Anonymous, resulting in 80% of IRC users leaving within a month.


Part of a statement published by Anonymous on AnonNews.

Following these revelations, a statement on GCHQ's war against Anonymous was posted on the AnonNews website. The statement ends with a suggestion that some kind of retaliation could be expected: "Now that we truly know who it was who attacked us, Expect all of us."

Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous also fuelled suggestions that they could be responsible for GCHQ's website woes, with some referring to the #TheDayWeFightBack hashtag.

Curiously, a much larger amount of downtime has been observed from Netcraft's Romanian performance monitor since the leaked slides were made public. That could indicate much more extreme DDoS mitigation techniques are being applied to these requests, and this in turn suggests that if an attack is occurring, perhaps Romania is one of the countries from which the attacks are being launched.

The www.gchq.gov.uk website is served from a content delivery network run by Limelight Networks, who claim to be one of the world's largest, best performing, and most highly available content delivery networks. Although it remains hosted at the same location, the website changed its Server header from "WebServer" to "EdgePrism/4.1.2.0" earlier this week. Limelight Networks first unveiled EdgePrism in 2001, so any similarities to the name of the NSA's PRISM mass electronic surveillance program are presumably coincidental.

Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in January 2014

Rank Performance Graph OS Outage
hh:mm:ss
Failed
Req%
DNS Connect First
byte
Total
1 Datapipe FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.007 0.090 0.020 0.039 0.059
2 Qube Managed Services Linux 0:00:00 0.007 0.109 0.041 0.083 0.083
3 Hyve Managed Hosting Linux 0:00:00 0.007 0.257 0.064 0.126 0.127
4 Netcetera Windows Server 2012 0:00:00 0.007 0.056 0.070 0.156 0.292
5 Swishmail FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.007 0.133 0.073 0.144 0.189
6 Bigstep Linux 0:00:00 0.011 0.314 0.065 0.137 0.228
7 www.uk2.net Linux 0:00:00 0.011 0.152 0.069 0.142 0.224
8 Server Intellect Windows Server 2012 0:00:00 0.011 0.089 0.099 0.635 0.984
9 Midphase Linux 0:00:00 0.015 0.262 0.120 0.243 0.444
10 Anexia Linux 0:00:00 0.019 0.127 0.093 0.436 0.717

See full table

All of the top five hosting company sites started the year with only two failed requests each. The average connection times were used to break the tie for first place.

Managed services provider Datapipe had January's most reliable hosting company site, with two failed requests and an average connection time of 20ms. Datapipe was the fastest within the top 10, and second overall. Datapipe provides managed enterprise cloud services via its Stratosphere cloud computing platform; delivered from Datapipe's global network of data centres in conjunction with Amazon Web Services. Datapipe acquired Newvem in September which has combined its managed AWS with a cloud optimisation platform. Datapipe has not had a single outage since 2006, and is only two months away from having 8 years of 100% continuous uptime.

In second place is last month's number one — Qube Managed Services, followed by UK based Hyve Managed Hosting in third place with average connection times of 41ms and 64ms respectively. Qube's hosting services are delivered from data centre facilities in London, New York and Zurich. This month is Qube's fifth consecutive month in the top 10.

Hyve Managed Hosting, in third place, offers a 100% network uptime guarantee by utilising multiple Tier 1 backbone providers and peering with multiple networks in multiple global locations. In December Hyve launched SecureShare which allows its customers to host their own encrypted file sharing servers which are protected behind its hardware firewalls, IPS systems and DDoS defense devices provided as part of its SecureCloud services.

Elsewhere in the full table this month Codero received $8M in financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Farnam Street Financial. Codero is planning to deploy new data centres across the U.S. and Europe and expand its hosting portfolio to serve more customers.

FreeBSD powered Datapipe's site, at the top of the table, and also corporate email services provider Swishmail in 5th place. The remaining hosting company sites ran Linux except for two running Windows Server — Netcetera in 4th place and Server Intellect in 8th place.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of around forty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

From a customer's point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies' own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing, and this is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage. In the event the number of failed requests are equal then sites are ranked by average connection times.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.

Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in December 2013

Rank Performance Graph OS Outage
hh:mm:ss
Failed
Req%
DNS Connect First
byte
Total
1 Qube Managed Services Linux 0:00:00 0.004 0.100 0.043 0.087 0.088
2 Hosting 4 Less Linux 0:00:00 0.004 0.171 0.124 0.245 0.627
3 New York Internet FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.007 0.140 0.074 0.148 0.577
4 Pair Networks FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.007 0.234 0.083 0.169 0.572
5 www.dinahosting.com Linux 0:00:00 0.007 0.245 0.087 0.177 0.177
6 Webair Internet Development FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.011 0.167 0.073 0.154 0.353
7 Server Intellect Windows Server 2012 0:00:00 0.011 0.073 0.101 0.330 0.701
8 XILO Communications Ltd. Linux 0:00:00 0.019 0.202 0.068 0.136 0.234
9 Swishmail FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.019 0.126 0.074 0.146 0.192
10 ServerStack Linux 0:00:00 0.019 0.088 0.076 0.151 0.152

See full table

Qube Managed Services had the most reliable hosting company site in December 2013, making December Qube's fourth consecutive month in the top ten after attaining first place in September. Qube provides managed hosting services out of data centers in London, New York and Zurich. Qube and Hosting 4 Less, which placed second, both saw only a single failed request over the month with Hosting 4 Less losing out on the top spot due to a slightly longer average connection time (0.04s vs. 0.12s).

Swishmail made an appearance at ninth in the table, taking its total number of appearances in the top ten in 2013 to nine. This means that both iWeb and Swishmail jointly hold the record for the most frequent appearances in the top ten in 2013. Swishmail provides corporate email services on a FreeBSD platform, while iWeb provides dedicated servers, managed hosting and colocation services on a Linux platform.

To sign off the year, WebAir made its first appearance in the table for 2013, placing sixth. WebAir offers hosting services out of data centers in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Montreal and a 'flagship' facility in New York (NY1), which WebAir claims offers 'the lowest network latency to Europe via direct feeds to Transatlantic fiber'.

Five of the top ten most reliable hosting company sites were running Linux, while four ran FreeBSD. Server Intellect ran the single Windows Server-based site to complete the list: Windows Server makes a reappearance after not placing in the top ten in November.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of around forty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

From a customer's point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies' own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing, and this is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage. In the event the number of failed requests are equal then sites are ranked by average connection times.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.

Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in November 2013

Rank Performance Graph OS Outage
hh:mm:ss
Failed
Req%
DNS Connect First
byte
Total
1 Krystal Hosting Linux 0:00:00 0.007 0.137 0.091 0.189 0.189
2 Swishmail FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.010 0.128 0.077 0.151 0.201
3 iWeb Linux 0:00:00 0.014 0.144 0.089 0.172 0.172
4 dinahosting Linux 0:00:00 0.014 0.218 0.097 0.194 0.194
5 Kattare Internet Services Linux 0:00:00 0.014 0.182 0.124 0.246 0.506
6 Datapipe FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.017 0.080 0.019 0.039 0.059
7 ServerStack Linux 0:00:00 0.017 0.088 0.076 0.151 0.151
8 Qube Managed Services Linux 0:00:00 0.024 0.117 0.056 0.112 0.112
9 New York Internet FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.024 0.140 0.074 0.149 0.570
10 Bigstep Linux 0:00:00 0.028 0.284 0.073 0.155 0.230

See full table

With only two failed requests, Krystal Hosting was the most reliable hosting company in November 2013. Krystal, which was founded in 2002 by Simon Blackler when he was just 17 years old, recently launched a VPS hosting service, Kloud. The UK-based hosting company has placed great emphasis on security — it is currently based in an underground ex-military bunker outside London which is protected by former members of the military and police services.

Swishmail was second most reliable hosting company in November, with only three failed requests. Swishmail primarily provide a business email service on a FreeBSD-based platform. Earlier this year it became a bronze sponsor of the FreeBSD project.

Close behind Swishmail came iWeb (third most reliable), dinahosting (fourth), and Kattare Internet Services (fifth). As all three hosting companies had the same number of failed requests in November the tie was broken by examining the average connection time.

Datapipe ranked 6th with five failed requests. It is regularly one of the fastest and most reliable hosting companies we monitor. Datapipe has more than seven years of continuous uptime on www.datapipe.net.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of around forty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

From a customer's point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies' own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing, and this is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage. In the event the number of failed requests are equal then sites are ranked by average connection times.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.

Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in October 2013

Rank Performance Graph OS Outage hh:mm:ss Failed Req% DNS Connect First byte Total
1 iWeb Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.153 0.090 0.178 0.178
2 Hosting 4 Less Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.181 0.120 0.239 0.610
3 Qube Managed Services Linux 0:00:00 0.009 0.128 0.064 0.129 0.129
4 www.uk2.net Linux 0:00:00 0.009 0.172 0.090 0.184 0.320
5 Swishmail FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.012 0.145 0.090 0.177 0.249
6 Virtual Internet Linux 0:00:00 0.012 0.154 0.093 0.269 0.476
7 XILO Communications Ltd. Linux 0:00:00 0.015 0.238 0.093 0.193 0.348
8 Pair Networks FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.018 0.240 0.090 0.183 0.579
9 Data Centers Canada Linux 0:00:00 0.021 0.077 0.092 0.191 0.409
10 Anexia Linux 0:00:00 0.021 0.250 0.122 0.483 0.844

See full table

Montreal based iWeb was the most reliable hosting company in October 2013 with only two failed requests. Two days ago the US IT-infrastructure company Internap announced plans to buy iWeb in a deal worth $145m. Both companies provide IaaS and are corporate sponsors of the OpenStack foundation. Internap has data centres around the world which will allow iWeb to expand on its four data centres, all based in Canada.

Hosting 4 Less was the second most reliable hosting company; it also only had two failed requests but its slower average connection time was used as the decider. 2nd place is its highest ranking this year, having also been ranked 2nd in September 2012. Qube Managed Services, who regularly feature in the top 10, ranked third this month having been the most reliable hosting company in September.

UK2 celebrated their 15th year in business this month and are again the fourth most reliable hosting company. UK2 cater to a wide range of customers, from individuals and small businesses wanting to create an online presence with their Website Builder tool to larger websites using its Xen based Virtual Servers and dedicated hosting.

Linux is used by eight of the top ten with the remaining two, Swishmail and Pair Networks using FreeBSD. Netcetera was the most reliable Windows hosting company again this month - although just outside the top 10 in 12th place. 8 of the top 10 are using the Apache web server including the top four companies.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of around forty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

From a customer's point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies' own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing, and this is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage. In the event the number of failed requests are equal then sites are ranked by average connection times.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.

Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in September 2013

Rank Performance Graph OS Outage
hh:mm:ss
Failed
Req%
DNS Connect First
byte
Total
1 Qube Managed Services Linux 0:00:00 0.000 0.125 0.066 0.134 0.134
2 Kattare Internet Services Linux 0:00:00 0.003 0.193 0.125 0.250 0.515
3 Hosting 4 Less Linux 0:00:00 0.003 0.179 0.128 0.251 0.634
4 www.uk2.net Linux 0:00:00 0.006 0.158 0.087 0.179 0.309
5 krystal.co.uk Linux 0:00:00 0.009 0.151 0.100 0.208 0.208
6 Netcetera Windows Server 2012 0:00:00 0.022 0.073 0.088 0.185 0.357
7 iWeb Linux 0:00:00 0.022 0.152 0.089 0.177 0.177
8 Hivelocity Hosting unknown 0:00:00 0.022 0.156 0.101 0.201 0.201
9 ServerStack Linux 0:00:00 0.025 0.099 0.081 0.161 0.161
10 INetU Windows Server 2003 0:00:00 0.025 0.143 0.088 0.221 0.484

See full table

Qube Managed Services had the most reliable hosting company site in September 2013, with not a single failed request throughout the whole month, and an average connection time of only 0.066 seconds. Qube is based in London, but they also host services from data centers in New York and Zurich. Their New York data center is at 111 8th Avenue, which is adjacent to a trunk dark fiber line. This building is the city's third largest in terms of floor area and was bought by Google for $1.9 billion in 2010. Qube provides managed and colocated hosting services from each of its data centers, as well as virtual data centers based on VMware vCloud Director.

Including September, Qube ("Qualified By Experience") has made five appearances within the top ten so far this year, and also attained another first place result in May.

In second place, with just one failed request, was Kattare Internet Services. It is among the most reliable sites monitored by Netcraft, managing 99.993% uptime over the past year and 99.97% over the past seven years. On September 21st, it was predicted that a damaging storm would hit the Pacific Northwest (Kattare's base of operations), causing thunder and wind storms, with 50mph gusts strong enough to take down trees. The next day this storm took out Kattare's power supply; however, the use of generators meant there were no outages recorded during the storm.

Hosting 4 Less narrowly missed out on second place, as although it only had one failed request during September, its average connection time was 3 milliseconds slower than Kattare's.

Seven of September's top ten hosting company sites were running on Linux operating systems. Five of these (including Qube, Kattare and Hosting 4 Less) used the Apache web server software, while ServerStack and krystal.co.uk used nginx.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of around forty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

From a customer's point of view, the percentage of failed requests is more pertinent than outages on hosting companies' own sites, as this gives a pointer to reliability of routing, and this is why we choose to rank our table by fewest failed requests, rather than shortest periods of outage. In the event the number of failed requests are equal then sites are ranked by average connection times.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.