GoDaddy Hack Brings Millions of Small Business Websites Down

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Thousands and possibly millions of websites hosted by GoDaddy.com went down for several hours on Monday, causing trouble for the mainly small businesses that rely on the service, after their servers were hacked by a member of Anonymous. Following the hack, the company has restored service to most customers late Monday. 

“Most customer hosted sites back online. We’re working out the last few kinks for our site & control centers. No customer data compromised,” GoDaddy tweeted on its official Twitter account at about 8:30 p.m. ET.

Earlier on Monday, a Twitter feed that claimed to be affiliated with the “Anonymous” hacker group said it was behind the outage, but that couldn’t be confirmed. Another Twitter account, known to be associated with Anonymous, suggested the first one was just taking advantage of an outage it had nothing to do with.

GoDaddy spokeswoman Elizabeth Driscoll said the outage began at around 1:25 pm EDT (1725 GMT). By around 5:43 pm EDT (2143 GMT), the GoDaddy.com website was back up and service was restored for the bulk of its customers. Driscoll said there was no loss of sensitive customer information such as credit card data or passwords and that the company was investigating the cause.

GoDaddy.com hosts more than 5 million websites, mostly for small businesses. A member of Anonymous who goes by the Twitter handle @AnonymousOwn3r and describes himself as the “security leader of #Anonymous,” took credit for the attack on the domain registrar, famous for its racy television ads in the United States.

“How long do you guys think i should let http://www.godaddy.com/ under my #tangodown,” AnonymousOwn3r wrote. The unknown actor later denied that the GoDaddy takedown was a coordinated effort carried out by Anonymous as a whole. “[T]he attack it’s coming only from me,” AnonymousOwn3r wrote.

Technically, three of GoDaddy’s DNS (Domain Name System) servers failed to resolve as a result of the hack, which Twitter user @anonymousown3r has called his doing. Shortly after GoDaddy sites started dropping by the hundreds of thousands, he tweeted, “#tangodown godaddy.com by @anonymousown3r.” Businesses all over the world struggled to recover their online presence during the five hour outage.

For the vast majority of clients hosting with GoDaddy, the DNS issue wasn’t fixable because GoDaddy holds all the MX records for these sites, and users usually have to log into the GoDaddy site in order to switch DNS providers. While the site was down, millions of site owners had to sit on their hands and wait for the GoDaddy techs to eventually get those servers back online and functioning.

At the time of writing, users are able to get onto the GoDaddy site and log in to view or change any account settings. With this unexpected, surprising attack, many of the domain administrators affected today may be rethinking their DNS provider.

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