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- Blackmailers target $1m website ROFL
January 18, 2006, 6:16 am
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The site of a UK student who had the idea of selling pixels as
advertising space has been hit by a web attack.
Alex Tew hit the headlines at the start of the year when he revealed
his Million Dollar Homepage had made him a million dollars in four
But the publicity brought the unwanted attention of extortionists who
knocked the site over with a massive denial-of-service attack.
It followed his refusal to pay a ransom.
Mr Tew's encounter with the net criminals began on 7 January when he
received an e-mail threatening to bombard the site with data unless he
paid a ransom of $5,000 (£2,800).
He did not respond and the 10 January deadline passed without
incident. But the following day the site went down, and has only been
up intermittently since then.
A series of other e-mails, upping the ransom to $50,000 (£28,000),
"I haven't replied to any of them as I don't want to give them the
satisfaction and I certainly don't intend to pay them any money," Mr
Tew told the BBC News website.
Both the FBI and the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit have been
notified about the problem.
"Their [NHTCU] instinct is that this attack originates in Russia
although it is not possible to track the e-mail back to its source,"
said Mr Tew.
"There is not much more that they can do," he added.
Instead, Mr Tew's web hosting firm Sitelutions is working on a
hardware solution that they are confident will fix the problem
It has become common practice for extortionists to target net firms
and threaten to cripple their websites with deluges of data unless
they pay a ransom.
So-called Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks overwhelm
servers with customer requests until they are forced offline.
Computers are innocently recruited from all over the world to take
part in the attack, each sending only a small part of the entire data
The recruiting of machines to take part in attacks is typically done
by infecting them with a virus or worm.
The net address of compromised machines - dubbed zombies or bots - is
sent back to the criminal, who will use it to launch a DDoS.
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Re: Blackmailers target $1m website ROFL
Raises some interesting points about his business model - with his site
using 200 Mbps maybe he hasn't correctly calculated how much 5 years
hosting and maintenance he has contracted to provide, will cost.
Although he should still be in profit.