DoS attack prevents access to WordPress.com blogs

The WordPress.com blog-hosting site experienced a DoS attack that began Saturday and continued to cause service disruption on Tuesday.

The WordPress.com blog-hosting service suffered a denial-of-service (DoS) attack that began Saturday and was still preventing users from logging in or posting to their blogs on Tuesday.

Matt Mullenweg, spokesman for Automattic, confirmed that the service experienced a DoS attack with spikes of up to 6 gigabits of incoming traffic, which was making some blogs inaccessible for about five to 15 minutes on Tuesday. Though service had mostly been restored, Automattic, which maintains WordPress.com, was still working on returning service to normal levels on Tuesday afternoon, he said.

"Obviously that [is not good] and is pretty unusual for our service," he said in an e-mail. "All our people who can are working on the issue."

However, an employee at a company that has blogs hosted by WordPress.com suggested that some users were experiencing outages for longer than 15 minutes. The source, who asked not to be identified, said on Tuesday afternoon that users there were unable to log in to their blogs and post comments for "most of the day." However, the blogs were still able to be viewed publicly.

"It's starting to come back to life now, slowly," said the source on Tuesday afternoon.

WordPress.com users were notified via e-mail about the DoS attack. In the e-mail, the service provider said that the attack was affecting user log-in and causing some forums to be offline.

Mullenweg said that the main Wordpress.com page was down longer than some blogs because "we sacrificed it in order to keep blogs and our users up." However, the site's home page and Web site were up and running on Tuesday.

He also provided a link to a graph that shows the traffic spikes to WordPress.com on the graph, where the service's traffic is displayed in a brown line.

A DoS attack is an attempt to make a Web site or service unavailable to intended users by flooding the service or site with incoming data requests, such as e-mails. Motives for DoS attacks vary, but perpetrators mostly target companies with high-profile, highly trafficked Web sites.

Joris Evers, a spokesman for security research and software company McAfee, said DoS attacks are still fairly common, although they have tapered off in recent years because technology has been developed that can head off such attacks before they affect service.

Though he had not heard specifically of the WordPress attack, Evers said that it's possible the attack was mounted by someone "who was upset about something that was written on a WordPress blog, and they decided to take action against that."

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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