Sustained DDoS Wobble Prominent Weblogs

A series of distributed denial of service attacks has made for a tough week for the "Blogosphere," the fast-growing community of weblogs. Many of the best-read blogs are hosted by Hosting Matters, a Jacksonville, Fla. provider that was knocked offline for a total of 15 hours in three separate attacks from Oct. 16-21.

The DDoS attacks appear to have targeted Internet Haganah, which seeks to identify web sites with terrorist links and then lobbies hosting providers to shut down the suspect sites. Internet Haganah operator Aaron Weisburd says his site was targeted by Al Qaeda sympathizers, while reps from Hosting Matters declined to identify either the target or attacker. Hosting Matters was flooded by up to 150 megabytes of data per second on Oct. 16, leaving most clients offline for much of that day and again on Oct. 20 and 21.

Caught in the crossfire were many prominent weblogs, including InstaPundit, The Command Post, BuzzMachine and Little Green Footballs, among others. Weblogs hosted on other services provided updates for readers wondering why so many blogs were offline.

Though inconvenienced, bloggers quickly rallied financial support for Weisburd, who appealed for donations to mirror his site among as many providers as possible. By late last night, the effort had netted $3,790 and 15 mirrors were in operation, according to updates on the Internet Haganah site.

In recent months the targets of distributed denial of service attacks have diversified, with some attackers apparently now targeting hosting companies. In late August was attacked just one day after issuing a press release launching a service to mitigate the effects of DDoS attacks, while EV1Servers/Rackshack appeared to suffer a similar attack several days later.

Rackspace and Rackshack are two of the largest hosting companies, collectively accounting for around 2.5% of the Internet's active web sites, and a successful attack on either of their networks would be very disruptive.

Meanwhile, it's been an eventful year for Hosting Matters, which in May was knocked offline for more than 12 hours by a fire at Net Access Corp.'s data center in Parsippany, NJ. The company has since relocated most of its servers to Peak 10's Jacksonville facility. While many customers have expressed support for the company, others appear feeling the stress.

"Please do not let your emotions run away with you when communicating with us," read a notice on the Hosting Matters support forum. "Threats of violence against our employees will absolutely not be tolerated and are a sure-fire way to find your account terminated."