BT and hosting firm Fasthosts are at loggerheads about which is to blame for a 36-hour service outage.
Fasthosts, which hosts 500,000 Web sites (mainly run by small businesses), accuses BT of failing to provide a timely fix for a problem which made almost all the Web sites it hosts unavailable and left its customers unable to receive email. The problem also affected UKREG the domain registry that Fasthosts also runs.
Andrew Michael, managing director of Fasthosts, said the outage, which began in the early hours of Tuesday morning and end only late yesterday, will cost it £400,000 in lost revenues and compensation pay outs to customers under service level agreements.
He said the outage was due to a flood of traffic flowing through a router dedicated to Fasthosts in BT's Reading exchange, which links it to its Gloucester hosting centre over a 100Mbps leased line.
Michael said the source of the problem could either be due to a routing software bug or a denial of service attack, but whatever its source he was "disgusted" with BT's slow response. Fasthosts, which is considering changing telco after the incident, will ask BT for compensation.
For its part BT seems almost equally angry with Fasthosts. A spokesman said that Fasthosts supplied BT with incorrect information and stated categorically that testing established there was no problem with its router.
According to BT, a Fasthosts customer tried to launch an attack against a Web site hosted by Fasthosts and this customer responded with a distributed denial of service attack, which triggered the service blackout.
Fasthosts' Micheal rejected this particular explanation, though he didn't rule out DDoS attacks as a possible root cause of the problem.
In the circumstances the cause of the outage is unclear, and BT and Fasthosts even disagree about how the problem was fixed. One thing that's much more certain is that there's a huge number of angry Fasthosts customers looking for compensation and two service providers at loggerheads about who'll ultimately pay. ®
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