A lone hacker has claimed responsibility for an ongoing denial-of-service attack that may have knocked out millions of websites hosted by world's largest domain registrar GoDaddy.
The attack began at around 10.00 Pacific time (17.00 GMT/18.00 BST) and appears to affect the registrar's DNS servers. Any site that is hosted with GoDaddy could be affected, although as of 13.00 Pacific (20.00GMT/21.00BST) the company reported that at least some service had been restored.
Claiming responsibility for the outage is a hacker who goes by the Twitter handle AnonymousOwn3r. Although that account's Twitter bio describes the hacker as "Security leader of #Anonymous" and "Anonymous Official member," a number of Twitter feeds affiliated with the hacker collective say that Anonymous was not involved, and AnonymousOwn3r himself has called for sole credit.
So far, no reason for the attack has been given, although speculation abounds. GoDaddy has earned its share of detractors for various reasons, ranging from its early support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US, to GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons posting a video of himself shooting an elephant while on a Zimbabwe safari vacation.
According to AnonymousOwn3r, however, he "is not anti-GoDaddy" and the attack was not motivated by any of these reasons, but instead simply to point out flaws in the registrar's security:
@film_girl I'm taking godaddy down bacause well i'd like to test how the cyber security is safe and for more reasons that i can not talk now— Anonymous Own3r (@AnonymousOwn3r) September 10, 2012
GoDaddy customers were not generally impressed with this explanation, however, and many of them took to Twitter to voice their frustration that one individual was able to unilaterally take down their sites:
How can a hacktivist turn people off to their "cause"? Hack @godaddy, which millions of small business and artists rely on? Good job, idjit...— Eco (@DJ_Eco) September 10, 2012
GoDaddy claims to have registered as many as 52 million websites, many of which are operated by small businesses. The company has not disclosed how many of the sites are included in the outage, though it is believed that the majority may be affected.
How long the outage will continue remains unknown. According to AnonymousOwn3r, when he launches a DDoS attack he might let it continue for "one hour or one month." As of this writing, GoDaddy says it is still working to address the problem and that restoring full services is its top priority. ®