LulzSec fuels growth at CloudFlare

Nine months after its launch, content distribution network CloudFlare is now used by more than 40 thousand sites in Netcraft's web server survey. The company announced its public beta at TechCrunch Disrupt in September 2010, where it came in as a close runner-up. Despite not winning, CEO Matthew Prince later described how Disrupt brought his team together and resulted in an increase in signups without having to carry out any additional PR or marketing.

CloudFlare also gained customers after recent praise from LulzSec, who use the service to run their website at LulzSec have accrued more than 200 thousand followers on Twitter as a result of their attacks against high-profile targets such as Sony, Fox, PBS and the X Factor.

When a website uses CloudFlare, client requests are made to a global network of edge nodes rather than to the website itself. This can increase performance, particularly when an edge node is located somewhere that can respond faster than the website's original hosting location.

By monitoring site traffic, CloudFlare can also offer some protection against denial of service attacks. When malicious traffic is detected, it can be automatically blocked at the edge nodes, before the traffic hits the website. Matthew Prince reported some DDoS attacks against CloudFlare yesterday, but noted that the service had not been impacted.

However, AnonNews used to be a prominent user of CloudFlare until the service was disabled after a DDoS attack affected the CloudFlare network. With traffic instead being routed directly to the server hosting, it has been seemingly unable to withstand the current series of attacks against it. The domain is registered to Sven Slootweg, who told Netcraft, "They had to turn it off on my domain for the past few days because of a really large DDoS attack." He added, "It apparently seriously affected their network. There is one or more Turkish patriot hacker groups constantly attacking AnonNews."

Nonetheless, CloudFlare's growth is continuing at a strong rate. The accessibility and cost of the service is undoubtedly playing a large part in this success – no contracts are required, and users can either sign up for free, or pay only $20 per month for a Pro account which offers better performance, advanced security protection and real-time stats. CloudFlare will also be offering an enterprise service soon.

SOCA back online after DDoS attack

The UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is back online after a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack by LulzSec forced the agency to take their website offline yesterday.

A SOCA spokesman told BBC News that the agency had chosen to take its website offline to limit the impact on other clients hosted by their service provider, Connect Internet Solutions.

The agency – which is responsible for pro-active operations against serious and organised crime – was targeted as part of Operation Anti-Security (#AntiSec), which was announced on Sunday. The top priority of the operation is to "steal and leak any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments."

With reference to its DDoS capabilities, LulzSec also added: "If they try to censor our progress, we will obliterate the censor with cannonfire anointed with lizard blood." under attack?

The website of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, has been responding very slowly or not at all for most of the day, which is often symptomatic of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. However, with nobody claiming responsibility for such an attack – which is rather unusual lately – there could well be a less nefarious reason for the problems.

Earlier this year, the 'hacktivist' group Anonymous orchestrated a DDoS attack against in support of Operation Iran, which accused Iran of operating an illegal regime for the past 32 years. This attack was not successful, but a separate attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcaster ( did appear to succeed.

AffirmTrust enters the SSL market with free certificates

A new SSL certificate authority may be set to shake up the market by offering free 3 year domain validated certificates. AffirmTrust announced its entry into the SSL market yesterday, with an interesting mission statement:

"To give away as many free certificates as possible because we can - also it is just a lot of fun. We want to move an industry forward making security more available to every legitimate merchant on the Internet. AffirmTrust is not just a business - it's a quest to make meaningful change that benefits both merchants and consumers."

Although the company is new to the market, AffirmTrust's management team already has several years of relevant experience behind it – they were responsible for co-founding SSL company GeoTrust, which was later acquired by VeriSign in 2006 for $125 million. Today, the GeoTrust brand is owned by Symantec, which acquired VeriSign's security business last year.

AffirmTrust is not alone in giving away free SSL certificates. Eddy Nigg's StartSSL also offers free domain validated certificates, although these are only valid for a period of 1 year. Both companies also sell Extended Validation certificates, which require a more costly vetting process to ensure they are only issued to legally established businesses or organisations.

Domain validated certificates are generally the cheapest type of certificate available. This is because the issuance process can be automated to a high degree, as the applicant does not have to prove their identity – all they have to do is prove that they own (or control) the domain in question. This has no doubt played a large part in the popularity of domain validated certificates compared with Extended Validation certificates, particularly amongst low-traffic, low-revenue websites.

Despite the free alternatives, the paid-for domain validated certificate market still looks extremely healthy today: Netcraft's latest SSL Survey shows Go Daddy having the largest net growth in domain validated certificates during each of the past 4 months. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see the impact that AffirmTrust will have on the market, and whether any other companies will follow suit by offering free domain validated certificates.

June 2011 Web Server Survey

In the June 2011 survey we received responses from 346,004,403 sites.

Apache was the only major web server software to gain hostnames this month, with growth of 21M and nearly 2.2 percentage points of market share. The largest growth was seen at OVH, which gained more than 8.6M Apache hostnames. Large growth was also seen at Softlayer (5.6M), AmeriNOC (2.5M) and Hanaro Telecom (1.3M).

Among the other server vendors, Microsoft saw the largest loss with 1.4M fewer hostnames than in May. The majority of this loss was caused by VPLS losing nearly 1.5M hostnames.

nginx lost 1.2M hostnames, spread across a large number of hosting companies. The largest loss was at Ecatel, which saw a drop of nearly 700k hostnames.

Google experienced the smallest loss this month with 262k fewer hostnames than last month.

Total Sites Across All Domains
August 1995 - June 2011

Total Sites Across All Domains, August 1995 - June 2011

Market Share for Top Servers Across All Domains
August 1995 - June 2011

Graph of market share for top servers across all domains, August 1995 - June 2011

DeveloperMay 2011PercentJune 2011PercentChange
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Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in May 2011

Rank Company site OS Outage
DNS Connect First
1 Datapipe FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.004 0.053 0.006 0.013 0.016
2 Linux 0:00:00 0.007 0.146 0.005 0.032 0.058
3 iWeb Technologies Linux 0:00:00 0.011 0.101 0.045 0.091 0.091
4 New York Internet FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.011 0.100 0.062 0.125 0.376
5 Swishmail FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.011 0.354 0.062 0.125 0.330
6 FreeBSD 0:00:00 0.015 0.053 0.036 0.077 0.187
7 Linux 0:00:00 0.015 0.167 0.048 0.097 0.097
8 Kattare Internet Services Linux 0:00:00 0.015 0.151 0.097 0.196 0.394
9 Linux 0:00:00 0.019 0.183 0.059 0.123 0.148
10 Rackspace F5 Big-IP 0:00:00 0.019 0.155 0.063 0.127 0.127

See full table

Datapipe was the most reliable hosting company in May 2011 with only a single failed request from Netcraft's performance monitors this month. Datapipe provides a range of managed services and colocation from data centres in New Jersey, California, London, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In May, Datapipe announced it had secured $176 million dollars in equity and finance to accelerate its expansion.

The second most reliable hosting company in May was, which failed to respond to only two requests. ServerBeach offer cloud services, dedicated servers, managed hosting and colocation. As a child company of PEER 1 hosting, ServerBeach uses its parent company's IT infrastructure and network backbone.

Third this month was iWeb Technologies, a Canadian hosting company based in Montreal. iWeb Technologies provide web hosting, dedicated servers, managed hosting and colocation to customers from around the world.

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.