DDoS Attacks Target Domain Advertising Services

Domain pay-per-click advertising services have come under siege from digital attackers, with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks disrupting advertising on hundreds of thousands of parked domains. The attacks in the past week have targeted Sedo and ParkingSite, two of the largest domain monetization services. Both services say they have issued credits to customers to compensate them for service interruptions.

The attacks open a new front in the battle between e-commerce sites and DDoS attackers, who have previously targeted online betting sites, payment gateways and even online games. Sites with large volumes of transactions are the primary targets for a cottage industry of digital extortionists using DDoS attacks, usually launched through large botnets of compromised computers. The sites targeted in the latest attacks have not said publicly whether they received any requests for payment.

Sedo, ParkingSite and similar services place pay-per-click ads on parked domains, optimize the sites to attract traffic, and split the resulting ad revenue with the domain owner. Sedo, which hosts more than 235,000 domains at 1&1 Internet, was first hit on Aug. 21. "The cluster for serving the websites for the Sedo parking program has been attacked by a Bot network or a sophisticated attacker since this afternoon," a Sedo representative reported on the DomainState forum. "We are experiencing a SYN flood attack with spoofed IP addresses as the source. ... To give you an idea of the size of the attack: We would need about 200 additional servers to handle the SYN traffic coming in."

ParkingSite, a newer service affiliated with the popular DNForum.com, began experiencing problems on Aug. 24, and said it changed servers to deflect the attacks. The service is now hosted at Interland.

The success of domain parking services has helped the domain resale market evolve from a speculative venture into an industry with a defined business model, which is now attracting considerable interest from venture capital firms. The industry also has critics, who compare the ad-filled pages to digital litter, and say the practice has inflated domain prices with speculative purchases of hundreds of thousands of domain names.