Was the GoDaddy Outage Really Due to a Hacker?

GoDaddy had an outage on Monday that lasted for close to six hours, leaving those with GoDaddy hosted websites and email out of service. It’s a huge inconvenience to business owners and those who depend on regular traffic to their websites. Page views were down across all of my sites and once my email did come back up, there were major delays and what appears to be lost messages between clients. In short, it was a major hassle for anyone who depended on GoDaddy services, which was millions of people.

Shortly after the outage, an alleged member of the hacker group Anonymous took credit for the outage. GoDaddy would later deny this hack, claiming their own mistake for the outage. It was not actually the full hacker group who was claiming to have done this deed but just one member who goes by the name “Anonymous Own3r” and says that he acted alone to prove GoDaddy’s vulnerabilities.

Anonymous Own3r says on Twitter: @godaddy how do you explain that a router can compromise services through e-mail hosting and other things? it’s time to you assume my hack — Anonymous Own3r (@AnonymousOwn3r) September 13, 2012

Anonymous Own3r” seemed very stuck on making it known that he had done this hacking but really there is no proof ether way. It’s quite possible he just wanted the fame. If it’s true, he has completed one of the largest successful hacks in history. In the days that followed, he also received many shoutouts and ‘thank yous’ via Twitter for what he had done. He followed up later with a post that GoDaddy is “government owned”:

While some may have seen this as an act of vigilantism, there are many of us who were severely affected and don’t appreciate being made the target just so some hacker can prove a point to a company. Who are they really hurting when they do this?

The downtime only lasted about six hours but that was long enough to cause devastation to many businesses. Some took to Twitter to tell the account claiming responsibility just what they thought. GoDaddy also used the power of Twitter to keep their customers updated on downtimes.

“Most customer hosted sites back online,” GoDaddy said on Twitter. “We’re working out the last few kinks for our site & control centers. No customer data compromised.”

While the outage caused widespread Internet problems on Monday, no personal data or customer information was leaked, which is at least one positive side to the entire ordeal.

“The more problematic part is that any domain registered with GoDaddy that uses its nameservers and DNS records are also down,” Mashable wrote. “That means that even if you host your site elsewhere, using GoDaddy for DNS means it is inaccessible.”

If this hack was in fact, the result of the actions of one person, then this could spell disaster for GoDaddy. Already many customers are questioning their choice to remain with the company. While they did step forward and offer compensation for the inconvenience, they have definitely lost the trust of many users and this is not something that is easily won back.

The ripple effect of this incident which affected millions (but the exact numbers are likely impossible to calculate) will continue for some time. We cannot say for certain whether this was a hack or an outage but we can assume that many consumers will be questioning the security and stability of GoDaddy for some time to come.

Do you view GoDaddy differently after this incident?


Guest post by Lisa Mason, a content marketing specialist and often writes about technology, the Internet and security.