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Yesterday saw much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Ancestry.com and it's site FindAGrave site fell victim to a sustained DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attack. For those who thought it was their own computer or internet service preventing them from accessing Ancestry.com you can rest easy. You can read updates at https://www.facebook.com/Ancestry.com
Briefly a DDOS attack comes from hackers on multiple computers that send out bots to hit the designated website's servers. Because there are so many bots and they can hit the server in a never-ending barrage, the server is overloaded and can't deal with the requests from legitimate users. Then the site slows to a crawl or stops working completely. It can be difficult for the technicians to figure out where the bots are coming from in order to block them.
Yesterday saw Facebook and Twitter flooded with cries of "Is anyone else having trouble getting to Ancestry?" It quickly became apparent that none of the people posting knew about the site IsItDownRightNow at http://www.isitdownrightnow.com This site allows you to check on the status of any site on the Internet. That's a much better idea than hundreds if not thousands of people posting the same question.
But back to the shouting and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. This didn't come from Ancestry (although I'm sure they have been wiping sweat from their brows as they work diligently to stop the attacks). This reaction came from hundreds of people who posted angry messages on Ancestry's Facebook page. The responses ranged from anger ("This is BS - fix the problem!!" "I pay good money for this service!!") to despair ("I was going to do research today, now what?") It was obvious that most of those posting have no idea what a DDOS attack is and how difficult it can be to stop it. I don't criticize them because they aren't aware of these technical issues, but I do shake my head when those shouting the loudest could not be bothered to go and read up about what is involved.
A similar DDOS attack hit Feedly and Evernote last week. It is a BIG DEAL. It can take days to stop the bots from attacking the site. These recent hackers tried to extort money from the companies, with promises to stop the attack if they were paid.
I wish those who were ranting and raving about the problem knew what they were talking about. Those saner heads who tried to calm folks down with explanations of a DDOS attack and links where folks could read about it were shouted down and accused of being Ancestry shills. It was quite disturbing to see the lynch mob mentality that took over.
As for those who were whimpering about not being able to do their research or access their family tree (because we all know how dreadfully IMPORTANT it is to check something on that tree RIGHT NOW!!!!) what about taking a break and doing something else? Phone your favourite aunt or sister. Visit friends. Bake cookies. Read a good book. Play with your kids. DO SOMETHING ELSE!
Good grief! Not being able to get to Ancestry for the day is a first world problem. Think about it! There are children starving in other parts of the world. Women are being stoned for marrying without their parents' approval. People are being shot for being Christians. Those are big deals. Not accessing Ancestry or FindAGrave for a day are small issues in the overall scheme of life.