In what can only be viewed as a victory for the attackers, content delivery provider Akamai has dropped Brian Krebs’ web site krebsonsecurity.com in the midst of a record-breaking DDoS attack against the site.
Krebs and his site have been the target of DDoS, SWATting, and other attacks in the past, in response to his reporting on various illegal activities – and the people behind them. But this most recent attack, which began on Tuesday, is the largest in history.
Akamai provides services that limit the effectiveness of DDoS attacks. According to Krebs, Akamai was providing their services for krebsonsecurity.com at no charge. He doesn’t fault Akamai for dropping his site, but their doing so raises some interesting possibilities.
The most likely explanation is that Akamai could no longer justify providing their services to Krebs for free; dealing with such a large attack would have involved a lot of time and effort. Akamai may have offered to keep supporting krebsonsecurity.com, but at their normal price. Those prices are typically only paid by large corporate clients, and Krebs probably just can’t afford them.
As a result of all this, krebsonsecurity.com is offline, and likely to stay that way until the attackers lose interest. Once the attacks subside, I’m sure the site will return.
Although Krebs doesn’t blame Akamai for dropping him, it’s hard to see how Akamai can come out of this without their reputation being harmed. There will always be questions about exactly what happened. Was Akamai actually overwhelmed? I’m sure Akamai’s competitors will be looking at picking Krebs up as a client.
And finally, this is a clear win for the attackers. They now know that they can take down even high profile web sites, although perhaps not those owned by companies with very deep pockets.
Ars Technica has more, including speculation that the attacks involved hacked ‘Internet of Things’ devices.
Updates 2016Sep25: krebsonsecurity.com is back up, thanks to Project Shield, a free program run by Google to help protect journalists from online censorship. It will be interesting to see how well this service protects Krebs’ web site from inevitable, future attacks. And how will Akamai spin this?
Meanwhile, Krebs also thinks that poorly-secured ‘Internet of Things’ devices made the record-breaking size of this attack possible. And despite the site only being down for a few days, he feels that this kind of attack is a new form of censorship, referring to the effect as ‘The Democratization of Censorship‘.