Commercial Giants Held Hostage to Denial of Service – at Christmastime

Think giants of commerce and names like Amazon, Walmart and Expedia come up. Now, think how much those giants depend on the huge cloud computing infrastructure to be secure and reliable to keep their businesses running and in shape.

So, if you’re an IT person, you can imagine how serious a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is to online commerce. Now, add the fact that it happened on the day before Christmas eve to those giants of commerce.

It appears that the attack was aimed at the servers of Neustar, which offers DNS services to many major companies under the name UltraDNS.

The attack started at 4:45 p.m. PST and lasted for about an hour. It was compounded by the fact that it also affected Amazon’s S3 and EC2 cloud services. A lot of web services rely on Amazon’s cloud infrastructure.

To Neustar’s credit, it reacted quickly and contained the damage to the Northern California area.

But again, here’s another instance of a breach in security resulting in cloud downtime. Needless to say, this latest instance isn’t a real confidence booster for companies considering switching data and applications to the cloud from internal systems.

Luckily, there are resources, such as monitoring services that website owners can turn to that will warn them of outages and other end-user issues. As our monitoring snapshots above show, Monitis’ cloud-based monitoring technology picked up the outage on both Walmart and Amazon. We quickly notified our customers of the problem, and they were able to notify their own customers and/or use alternate resources to give their customers access.

I predict that, in 2010, as demand grows for cloud computing, so will the need for 24/7 cloud-based monitoring of those systems. I’m already seeing evidence of it from my customers.