Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in October 2010

Rank Company site OS Outage
hh:mm:ss
Failed
Req%
DNS Connect First
byte
Total
1 Virtual Internet Linux 0:00:00 0.015 0.211 0.068 0.138 0.138
2 New York Internet FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.019 0.159 0.082 0.173 0.464
3 INetU FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.022 0.157 0.082 0.186 0.493
4 www.codero.com Linux 0:00:00 0.030 0.157 0.065 0.351 0.642
5 Datapipe FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.034 0.069 0.010 0.021 0.026
6 iWeb Technologies Linux 0:00:00 0.041 0.112 0.087 0.174 0.174
7 www.logicworks.net Linux 0:00:00 0.041 0.192 0.099 0.384 0.563
8 Swishmail FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.049 0.316 0.070 0.140 0.363
9 www.acens.com Linux 0:00:00 0.049 0.659 0.074 0.313 0.570
10 Multacom FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.056 0.172 0.137 0.275 0.752

See full table

Top of the rankings this month is Virtual Internet, whose site responded to all but four of Netcraft's requests. Virtual Internet focuses on availability and reliability, with a high capacity data centre network throughout Europe. Its UK data centres provide high connectivity as well as redundant power and cooling, multiple fault-tolerant distribution paths and strict access controls.

In second place this month is New York Internet. The company has consistently performed well in Netcraft's most reliable hosters rankings, having been in the top five every month for the last six months. NYI has a strong commitment to network availability, maintaining upstream connectivity to multiple top tier providers, as well as its own peering points with small to medium ISPs.

Third place goes to INetU, which failed to respond to only six of Netcraft's requests in the last month. INetU has also been a regular fixture in the most reliable hosters recently, appearing in the top five eight times in the last year.

In terms of operating systems used by the most reliable hosters in October, the top ten are evenly split between Linux and FreeBSD.

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.

Information on the measurement process and current measurements is available.

Yahoo.com suffers global downtime

www.yahoo.com suffered an outage for a short period this morning.

Yahoo!'s main website is currently the 14th most visited website in the Netcraft Toolbar dataset, so even a relatively short outage like this will have affected a large number of people. The site also suffered a worldwide outage last month.

Many of Yahoo!'s websites, including www.yahoo.com, are served with the YTS/1.18.5 (Yahoo! Traffic Server) header. Traffic Server was originally developed by Inktomi Corporation as a proxy cache for web traffic and streaming media. The company was later acquired by Yahoo! in 2002.

Yahoo!'s widespread use of YTS was largely hidden until November 2008, when the YTS/1.17.8 server banner was seen on more than 220,000 Yahoo!-hosted sites. Prior to that time, the sites did not return a Server header at all.

Netcraft's November 2010 Web Server Survey includes nearly 1.4 million sites using YTS.

WikiLeaks edges further away from the US

Not long after the Iraq War Logs website stopped being hosted on US servers, WikiLeaks' main website at wikileaks.org has followed suit.

Earlier this week, both sites were using US-based Amazon EC2 instances to serve their content. These servers have since been removed from their round-robin DNS setup, leaving only Irish and French servers to host the content for wikileaks.org and warlogs.wikileaks.org

Earlier this morning, we also noticed a change in the DNS settings for wikileaks.org. The nameservers had been altered to point to Irish servers instead of US ones:

org.                    9316    IN      NS      c0.org.afilias-nst.info.
org.                    9316    IN      NS      d0.org.afilias-nst.org.
org.                    9316    IN      NS      a0.org.afilias-nst.info.
org.                    9316    IN      NS      a2.org.afilias-nst.info.
org.                    9316    IN      NS      b0.org.afilias-nst.org.
org.                    9316    IN      NS      b2.org.afilias-nst.org.

These nameservers are hosted in Canada by Afilias Canada Corp, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Irish company Afilias. Such a change could help WikiLeaks stay out of reach of the US government. Afilias is responsible for a fair chunk of the internet — in 2001, they launched the top-level domain registry for .info, and now act as the service provider for the .org generic top-level domain on behalf of Public Interest Registry.

Both wikileaks.org and warlogs.wikileaks.org continue to share an Amazon EC2 instance in Ireland, and a French server hosted by Octopuce. At the time of publication, wikileaks.org had reverted back to its US-based nameservers at everydns.net.

WikiLeaks edges away from the US

WikiLeaks is no longer using US servers to deliver content for its Iraq War Logs site at warlogs.wikileaks.org.

Yesterday, two of the IP addresses used by the site belonged to Amazon EC2 instances in the United States, but these are no longer being used. Today, the Iraq War Logs site is only being served from two IP addresses; one in France and an EC2 instance in Ireland.

click to view

However, the main WikiLeaks site at wikileaks.org is still using a US-hosted EC2 instance. More interestingly, the DNS for wikileaks.org is also controlled by a US company:

wikileaks.org.          5160    IN      NS      ns4.everydns.net.
wikileaks.org.          5160    IN      NS      ns1.everydns.net.
wikileaks.org.          5160    IN      NS      ns2.everydns.net.
wikileaks.org.          5160    IN      NS      ns3.everydns.net.

In April 2010, EveryDNS was bought by the owners of DynDNS, which is well known for providing free dynamic DNS services.

WikiLeaks will have prepared for US intervention over the Iraq War Logs, which could explain why warlogs.wikileaks.org uses different nameservers, hosted in France:

;; ANSWER SECTION:
warlogs.wikileaks.org.  864     IN      A       91.194.60.32
warlogs.wikileaks.org.  864     IN      A       46.51.186.222

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
warlogs.wikileaks.org.  864     IN      NS      gnou.octopuce.fr.
warlogs.wikileaks.org.  864     IN      NS      benedict.serverside.fr.
warlogs.wikileaks.org.  864     IN      NS      ns2.octopuce.fr.

The short TTL (time to live) on warlogs.wikileaks.org is typical of any site that may need to change its location in a hurry, and is reminiscent of the actions carried out by Microsoft in 2004 after they anticipated www.microsoft.com being attacked by the "MyDoom.B" virus. SCO also made a similar change, setting their TTL as low as 60 seconds. The 15 minute TTL on warlogs.wikileaks.org allows WikiLeaks to change the site's location relatively quickly, should any of the hosting locations be attacked or taken down. Netcraft has not seen the site suffering any outages yet.

Nonetheless, WikiLeaks' hosting is not as bulletproof as some make out. Besides the US-based nameservers used by wikileaks.org, another potential weakness for all sites under the wikileaks.org domain could be the choice of domain name registrar: Dynadot LLC is a US company and thus has to consider US law as well as ICANN regulations.

This could suggest that the US government is reluctant to disrupt access to warlogs.wikileaks.org, even though they appear to be capable of doing so.

Firesheep usage leads to Idiocy

Yesterday, we wrote about the Firesheep extension for Firefox, which brought session hijacking to the masses. Ostensibly a tool to highlight the unencrypted session handling employed by many popular websites, its user-friendliness allows novices to sniff out and hijack sessions that are not protected by SSL.

Unsurprisingly, the newfound simplicity of launching these session hijacking attacks kicked up quite a fuss on Twitter, and Firesheep received over 100,000 downloads overnight.

Idiocy

In response to the rapid uptake of Firesheep, Jonty Wareing has just released a somewhat different tool called Idiocy. This acts as "a warning shot to people browsing the internet insecurely" by sniffing network traffic to see if anyone is visiting the Twitter website over an unencrypted HTTP connection; and if they are, it will hijack the session and automatically post a tweet to warn them that they are vulnerable. The tweets helpfully include a link to a page which explains what happened, and how to prevent it happening in the future.

Names removed to protect the innocent

So rather than allowing anybody to exploit session hijacking for malign purposes, this tool tells the 'victim' how to browse more safely. The code and documentation for Idiocy is available from Jonty's GitHub repository.

WikiLeaks heads for the clouds

WikiLeaks has started using the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to serve some of the whistle blowing site's controversial content from the United States.

Shortly after WikiLeaks went live with their Iraq War Logs on Friday, UK-based Alex Norcliffe noticed Netcraft showing the new site to be hosted by Amazon EC2 in Ireland. Alex checked the IP addresses being used by the site and discovered it was being served from five locations in total, including two other Amazon EC2 instances that are located on US soil.

Amazon's EC2 web service is perhaps ideally suited for sites like WikiLeaks, which may receive huge bursts of traffic when important leaks are announced. Any EC2 site using the Amazon Cloudwatch monitoring service can enable the Auto Scaling feature to automatically scale up a site's capacity to cope with traffic spikes, or scale it down at less busy times to reduce costs.

The main WikiLeaks site, wikileaks.org, is also using round robin DNS to serve some of its requests from Amazon in the US. Prior to this, the site was hosted by PeRiQuita AB in Sweden, using the Sun Java System Web Server 7.0. Both wikileaks.org and warlogs.wikileaks.org are now using Apache 2.2.16 on Debian Linux.