Meetup.com down for days after being hit with criminal extortion threat and DDoS Denial-Of-Service Attack

| March 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

Imagine if you were the CEO of a social network and received an email claiming that a competitor had hired a cyber terrorist to stage a DDoS attack (denial of service). But – the attacker offered to not start the attack for $300 USD.

Meetup LogoThis is exactly what happened to Meetup.com, which is a web-based social network with over 17,000,000 members that facilitates friendly off-line meetings and group activities. In the 12 years of operation, this was the first incident they had encountered.

The criminal attempted to extort $300 USD to stop the attack. $300 USD ?!?

There is a principle that paying ransom to criminals only leads to more problems. And could set off a future trend with copy-cat criminals.

CEO and Meetup co-founder Scott Heiferman adheres to that fact and refused to pay. Shortly afterwards, the attack began.

Meetup’s technical team successfully thwarted the initial attack, but the onslaught intensified. What followed for several days was a major battle in the modern world of conflict between good and evil.

A DDoS attack is a “denial-of-service” which floods the data communications connections to the internet that is basically like too many cars trying to use the same road. It causes a massive traffic jam.

There was no danger of personal or financial information being taken. A DDoS merely causes access to be impossible. So those trying to access a server can’t get through because all the “roads” are clogged.

Meetup ddos attack

It started on Thursday the 27th of February with the first attack. Meetup was down for around 24 hours until the first attack was stopped.

DDoS attack diagramThe second attack came around 4pm on Saturday but was defeated around midnight due to some clever technical implementations by Meetup’s team. Everything seemed to be stable and back on for a normal Sunday.

However, the Sunday calm was abruptly interrupted just after 8pm with a massive third attack. This attack crippled the site for nearly 24 hours until late Monday afternoon when Meetup came back online.

During the attacks, Meetup kept users updated on their Meetup HQ Blog. The site was stabilized and has been functioning normally.

In the aftermath of the DDoS attack, the technical team at Meetup has been working to prevent future problems with DDoS attacks. Meetup also credited its organizers (those who pay for services to run groups) an extra seven days of service and extension of service to those who had their accounts in need of renewal during the outage.

It is difficult to understand what kind of criminal mind wants to resort to extortion, denial-of-service attacks or other acts of damage on well intentioned people or groups. Whatever the misguided or purely evil intention, those who build and innovate to make life more enjoyable and prosperous for all must take into consideration what must be done to stand against the criminal element.

The best decision in this or any case was to not give in to extortion and fight.

CLICK HERE for a FAQ from Meetup about the DDoS attack.

CLICK HERE for information on what a DDoS attack is.

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EMnews / News for a Positively Charged Culture

Category: Electron Library - Books / Magazines / www, Electron Magazine Features

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