GoDAddy spent nearly an entire day trying to restore service to their millions of customers. The hosting giant supposedly fell prey to hackers and sent the company into a tailspin trying to get service restored. Once service was restored to the customers, GoDAddy Interim CEO issued a statement in which he said that the “service outage was not caused by external influences. It was not a “hack” and it was not a denial of service attack (DDoS). We have determined the outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and” He assured customers that their data was never compromised and that there was no risk to customer data.

Too Many to Count

While they were working on getting the servers back up and running, GoDaddy continued to update their progress via its Twitter account. It seems that this disruption affected literally millions of websites. It is very difficult to assess the actual damage that occurred because GoDaddy not only hosts websites, they also register domain names; these are in excess of 50 million and these could have been affected by the outages. When you look at the large numbers the company provides web based services for, they really had everything restored quickly. The question remains if it will be enough to help customers feel secure. There could be substantial losses and GoDaddy could be sweeping up behind this mess for some time. It’s a larger picture than just getting the network back online, they are going to be facing many questions pertaining to customer service, its reliability and its security infrastructure.

Prior Problems with GoDaddy

GoDaddy has had several PR disasters of late. Of course there have been their now famous Super Bowl ads that many have felt crossed the line and ended up having some negative repercussions. And their former CSO Bob Parsons was blasted for his notorious elephant safari. More recently controversy surfaced due to its temporary support for “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA. The company was boycotted and finally had to withdraw their support for this controversial bill. Most of these controversies did not have too big of an effect on their sales, but this massive loss of service to millions of customers, largely small businesses, may have different results. The problem is not so much that the problem occurred to begin with – but that there was no emergency plan that kept everyone in business while they fixed the error.

Are DNS Servers Safe?

A web host is expected to keep their sites online. Companies that host DNS servers, ones which connect an IP address and a domain name should be able to ensure that when someone visits Google traffic gets directed to the right web server. The inexpensive price is not all that important, and for that matter, neither is Super Bowl commercials. What is important is that the more than 10 million customers are comfortable purchasing domain names from the host. People also want to feel like they can recommend the server to friends and acquaintances. But if the company cannot perform basic DNS functions reliably, it could be the end of what appeared to be a successful run.

Whether the crash was the result of an attack; or if it was not a “result of outside influences” does not matter. The problem is that customers will feel that it is no longer a trustworthy DNS server. Many are shocked that the entire network was susceptible to being taken down. That’s a scary thought really, when you consider that they have 9 server facilities scattered around the world. It is a reminder to us all of how vulnerable networks really are.

Social Media Connection

During this crisis, GoDaddy limited their communication with customers to social media sources. Specifically they used Twitter to send out short messages informing followers of the status of restoring power. Once all this has settled they will have to be completely transparent about this incident and any weaknesses in their own security practices that allowed it to happen. That will not put lost money back into business owner’s pockets, but it could be what makes or breaks the company. They will have to be ready to provide adequate answers to angry customers and any long term residual costs that may occur.