Hosting Fail: Distribute.IT

If there's one thing we've stressed in numerous articles here at Ananova, it's that you need to ensure you're keeping your own backup copies of your files rather than putting all of your trust into your cheap hosting provider. It's a form of security. If something were to happen, it's nice to know all is not lost.

distribute it logo Hosting Fail: Distribute.ITRecently, there was an incident highlighting the importance of backing up your own data in Australia, when hosting provider Distribute.IT lost thousands of websites following a hacker compromising their servers.

Hosting Fail Distribute.IT: The Attack

In all, 4,800 web hosting accounts are completely and totally lost forever following the attack. This is just one of many such attacks occurring over the past few months, carried out by hacking groups such as LulzSec and Anonymous to name a few. It isn't just Distribute.IT: Sony and Nintendo were former targets, along with numerous government websites.

Even Distribute.IT's own company website was left in the dark, forcing the company to communicate via Blogger post. It broke the bad news to its customers: “While every effort will be made to continue to gain access to the lost information from those hosting servers, it seems unlikely that any usable data will be salvaged from these platforms.”

“In assessing the situation, our greatest fears have been confirmed that not only was the production data erased during the attack, but also key backups, snapshots and other information that would allow us to reconstruct these servers from the remaining data.”

Hosting Fail Distribute.IT:  Distribute.IT Unprepared, Clients Angry

A wide range of sources within the web hosting industry say that Distribute.IT is probably lacking resources to transfer those 4,800 compromised domains to new servers.

Milan Rajkovic operates the reseller web hosting and domain name registration company Milan Industries. He has been affected by this incident, losing clients because of it. Distribute.IT was Milan Industries wholesale domain provider, and the attack lost him plenty of business because he was unable to make appropriate DNS changes on the registered domain names.

Another victim is Dean Turnbull, IT support firm owner, who became unable to access important information for the domain names he had registered via Distribute.IT. Another company Turnbull works for were denied access to 200 domain names. He said, “The problem with Distribute.IT is that they've grouped in all of their own infrastructure in the same backup methodology. So they've lost a whole lot of customer data, but their company has also gone down because the two weren't separated.”

Hosting Fail Distribute.IT: Perfect Timing?

Ironically, the attack on Distribute.IT was conducted at a time when the Australian government was just about to adopt a new law that would strengthen laws on cyber security.

These updated laws will give law enforcement more ways to locate cyber criminals, in response to the increasing number of cyber attacks affecting small-, medium-, and large-sized businesses and corporations.

Scientists in Australia are applying theories of quantum mechanics to computing to develop bulletproof security. Quantum cryptography will prevent hackers from accessing communications by detecting hackers and altering or destroying messages altogether. Associate Professor Andrea Morello from the University of New South Wales said, “Anyone who attempts to eavesdrop the connection and essentially tap the data would destroy the data on the spot.”

There is a lot of work to be done before these ideas can become reality. However, it is nice to know the next big idea in cyber security is in the works.

Do you perform regular backups of your website data, or do you place all your trust in the web hosting company to do this? Will you rethink this strategy in the future?

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