Amazon UK Offline

Amazon UK LogoAmazon UK was offline for around half an hour yesterday. It seems likely that it was a denial of service attack, rather than someone hacking into the Amazon servers, but any Amazon downtime is worrying.

I found this interesting article by Chris Dawson which can be read here, in full - Amazon denial of service attack.

Amazon UK, France, Germany Austria and Italy were down for almost half an hour yesterday evening from about 9.15pm GMT. It also appears to have affected other websites which run on the Amazon Cloud Computing Services.

It’s not yet known if this was an attack in response to Amazon ending the hosting for the Wikileaks website, but it had been previously reported that hackers had given up trying to penetrate the Amazon websites as being too difficult to attack. In the mean time hacking efforts had been concentrated on others such as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard.

It would appear that the likely target of today’s downtime was Amazon’s data centre in Ireland where all the affected websites are hosted in Dublin.

It’s very likely there there are no serious security breaches at Amazon, but that this was what’s known as a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS). A denial of service is performed by sending so many requests for information to a server that it is overloaded and can’t respond to legitimate users such as Amazon buyers. A distributed denial-of-service means that multiple computers are being used, often these are computers which have previously been compromised by hackers and are being used without the owners knowledge.

Whilst it was a relatively short downtime it is already sending shock waves through the ecommerce world that one of the largest retailers and marketplaces in the world can be taken off line on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The world is becoming reliant on the Internet and for a group to be able to knock one of the largest sites in the world offline is a troubling concept. Today it was for just half an hour, tomorrow it could be for a much longer period of time.

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