Last week, I was prepping a snazzy video I recorded in between episodes of gorging myself on Boise, Idaho cuisine. I had hoped to post that this week – it was a fun update to tell you all about my new video series coming up here, my new ultra-sexy newsletter format, and some other news.
I’ll get to all that juice news soon, but first things first.
Unfortunately for me, the Universe had other plans last weekend. You’re gonna want to hear the story – get comfy and grab an adult beverage. You’ll need it.
This tale begins last Friday evening, about 10PM. I was busy whittling away on my email Inbox, after a busy week. *Errrp – server not found* Quickly I came to realise my server had went down. I saw my SysAdmin was online, so I pinged him to see if he could quickly resurrect it, since I can do that myself but sometimes it takes his more tech-god-worthy intervention.
Looks like a small DDoS attack – will send you a SMS once it’s been squashed.
Slightly worrying as I’m well aware at how crippling DDoS attacks can be, even on well established sites. Unfortunately, this is a weakness of the Internet that is not new. It started to get late, and my SysAdmin seemed hurried, so I thought, well – we’ve had a good traffic week, and nothing major on for the weekend so I’ll just leave it for the night.
Sadly, my poor wee SysAdmin was in the midst of dealing with a virtual meltdown of the datacentre he’s hosting folks in. So much so, that he had to involve not only his “upline” (the major Internet Service Providers above him, but the backbone telephone company folks above that!).
Did you know that when a telephone company gets involved in a major Internet issue of these sorts, they alert their pals in the FBI? Particularly when said attacks come from countries who aren’t exactly on everyone’s political invite-to-dinner list. (Note: this happened even though my sites are run out of Canada.)
SysAdmin kindly got in touch with me at 5AM Saturday – I did ask him to let me know, after all – but the alert wasn’t a “all clear” but more of a “Oh Sh!T” moment. He had some questions for me courtesy of the FBI Cybercrime Unit, curious if I had been threatened, blackmailed, or otherwise recently. I didn’t know at the time (half asleep), but this attack was serious, and they didn’t know who the target was.
Fast Forward to Sunday, and things are finally starting to improve. After several failed attempts to stem the flow of data disaster, the person who was the target was identified. They were kicked off the data centre, shut down, and the rest of us affected moved to safe ground (new IP addresses).
Despite having worked for over a decade in the world of software and well versed in damage control and disaster planning, this whole episode left me feeling a bit victimized and downright vulnerable.
One thing that I try to advise my clients time and time again: many of the virtual platforms you use, you don’t own. Classic examples:
It’s quite possible that none of these things will ever happen to. But what if one of them did? What would you do? Not to seem pushy, but you might want to think about that NOW, rather than when it happens and you’re in OMFGPANICMODE.
Here’s the rub with running an online business – and as more and more businesses go more and more virtual, the rub gets a little…well, not so good.
Deep Thought: Taking a step back for a minute and looking at the big picture, we’re slowly building a huge economy and a whole new generation of business owners on the back of a platform that has an awful lot of loose threads. Scary shit, people. Scary shit.
By now, you’re most likely crying into what is an empty glass. Get a refill, and let’s figure this thing out. A few tidbits of advice for you:
I wish I had better answers and a longer list, like these guys have good systems policies and terms of service, or these politicians support small-biz friendly Internet policies. But I don’t right now – it’s certainly an issue I’m going to spend a lot of thought on though.
What do you think – is the Internet just fine or is there a root issue here? What can small business owners and individuals do to protect themselves in the event of disaster?
Please send this to someone who probably could use a wake up call before their stuff goes on the fritz.
And while you’re at it, sign up for my newsletter – I’m relaunching it next month as a PDF-style magazine and OMFG it’s gonna be good.