Hackers Take Down Australian Web Host, Leave 4,800 Sites Unrecoverable

There has been a frenzy of hacking activity over the last few weeks from organizations like LulzSec and others that affected a number of major brands ranging from Sony to Citibank. Over the weekend, Australian domain registrar and web host Distribut.IT was the victim of a “deliberate, premeditated and targeted attack” on its servers. At first glance, this looks like a typical case of cyber vandalism. What’s different about this event, though, is that the hackers didn’t just steal information or deface the compromised sites. Instead, they actually managed to destroy so much information that, according to the Sidney Morning Herald, at least 4,800 of the sites hosted on the company’s servers are now completely “unrecoverable.”

According to Distribute.IT, the company currently doesn’t have “sufficient resources within the platform to transfer the 4,800 domains and accounts to other parts of the platform.” Indeed, Distribute.IT is now assisting its customers with the transfer of their domains to other hosts.

It’s surprising that this hosting company didn’t have off-site backups to restore its customers sites. Being a web host means that an attack like this is always a possibility and this company clearly wasn’t prepared for such an event. Sadly, how prepared a host really is often only becomes clear after a hack like this happens.

While it would be easy to argue that the businesses that hosted their sites with this company should have sufficient backups to ensure that their sites are always available. Chances are, however, that many of the affected sites were run by small businesses with little to no technical expertise. Most of these companies assume that their hosts will take sufficient measures to ensure that backups are always available. In the case of this host, that was clearly not the case.