By Peter Sayer
IDG News Service
December 24, 2009
Internet users in Northern California were unable to reach properties
including Amazon.com and Amazon Web Services for a time Wednesday
evening, as their DNS provider was targeted by a distributed
denial-of-service attack. The attack came as North American consumers
rushed to finish online shopping ahead of the end-of-year holiday
Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the first to signal something was amiss.
Its status page indicates that at 5:43 p.m. PT on Wednesday its staff
was investigating reports of DNS (Domain Name System) resolution errors
from customers trying to reach its S3 cloud storage service. The problem
persisted until 6:38 p.m. PT, but in the meantime the S3 service
continued to operate, AWS said.
However, staff at Neustar, the owner of Amazon's DNS provider UltraDNS,
was aware of the problem around an hour earlier, at 4:45 p.m. PT.
"At 7:45 p.m. ET we noticed an abnormal spike in queries and immediately
identified it as a DDoS attack," said Allen Goldberg, vice president of
corporate communications at Neustar, in an e-mail.
The company was able to analyze the attack pattern and take steps to
limit its effects within minutes of identifying the problem, he said.
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