DDoS Attack Cited in Million Dollar Homepage Outage

The company hosting the Million Dollar Homepage says an electronic attack was responsible for the extended outages earlier today. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) occurred as college student Alex Tew sold the final 1,000 pixels if his innovative ad service in an eBay auction for $38,100. The attack left the milliondollarhomepage.com site unreachable for large portions of the day, as seen in a performance chart for the site.

"The site received a major DDoS attack, and DDoS protection/prevention was not included in the customer's plan," Russell Weiss of InfoRelay Online Systems, Inc. wrote in an e-mail to Netcraft. "That said, we voluntarily took a number of steps to alleviate this attack while working within the appropriate budget." InfoRelay is the owner and operator of Sitelutions, which hosts the Million Dollar Homepage.

Tew has promised to keep the site online for at least five years. The DDoS attacks raise the prospect that operating milliondollarhomepage.com may prove more expensive than Tew originally envisioned. Tew will not be charged for any additional bandwidth consumed by the attack. But as Weiss noted, defense against DDoS attacks is typically a paid service not included with basic hosting accounts.

As the Internet's newest millionaire, Tew can afford to reinvest some of his earnings in additional site maintenance. The 21-year-old UK student launched the site in September to pay his college expenses, offering 1 million pixels of ad space at $1 a pixel. The eBay auction brought the site's total earnings to $1,037,100. The gimmick has also paid dividends to advertisers in the form of huge web traffic. Milliondollarhomepage.com has received up to 500,000 unique visitors per day.

"The site's traffic has been very intense over the past few weeks, in excess of 200Mbps, actually," said Weiss. "The high level of traffic has been well-supported by our multi-gigabit, redundant network." Weiss said the attack didn't affect any other sites on his company's network.

DDoS attacks have previously targeted advertising sites, including a series of attacks on domain parking services earlier this year and an attack on the DoubleClick banner advertising network in 2005.

Netcraft offers a web site performance monitoring service that provides uptime charts, along with e-mail alerts when an outage occurs.