11/09/2012 10:29 BST | Updated 11/09/2012 11:09 BST

GoDaddy 'Hacked', Small Businesses Suffer Under Outage Caused By 'Anonymous' Attack

Thousands of small business websites hosted by were down for several hours on Monday after the company’s domain registrar was apparently hacked.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Twitter user Anonymous Own3r, leading to speculation the Anonymous hacker group was behind the outage.

Anonymous Own3r took to the micro-blogging site to declare he had targeted the site to test its cyber security, alluding darkly to “more reasons” he could not discuss.

In a later tweet the user denied any affiliation with the wider Anonymous collective and claimed sole responsibility for the attack., which hosts over 5 million websites, still featured the following statement on Tuesday morning: “At 10:25 am PT, and associated customer services experienced intermittent outages. Services began to be restored for the bulk of affected customers at 2:43 pm PT.

"At no time was any sensitive customer information, such as credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, compromised. We will provide an additional update within the next 24 hours. We want to thank our customers for their patience and support.”

The company was a target for “hacktivists” earlier this year when it supported the Stop Online Piracy Act copyright bill.

Kenneth Borg, who runs a screen printing business in California, told AP the attack had led to clerks being forced to use their personal email addresses during the outage, causing an “administrative headache”.

Claiming he could sympathise to an extent with the hacker, he added: "I'm definitely one for upsetting the establishment in some cases, and I understand that if he's going after GoDaddy, he may have had many reasons for doing that.

"But I don't think he realised that he was affecting so many small businesses, and not just a major company."

The incident has been described as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Such tactics see servers crash under an overwhelming flood of communication.

Security expert Anup Ghosh told “This is yet another example of how anyone with an agenda can take down large portions of the internet with really cheap, off-the-shelf tools.”

Rob Cotton, CEO at global information assurance firm NCC Group, said: "This is a damning indictment of the current state of cyber defences – standards are simply not high enough.

"It's a sad state of affairs when the internet's largest domain registrar isn't adequately prepared for a cyber attack. This is simple digital vandalism – yet the measures GoDaddy had in place clearly couldn't handle it.

"The incident also highlights the potential dangers of the supply chain. GoDaddy had poor cyber defences in place, so in turn its customers did too. If organisations don't audit their suppliers' security, then they're leaving themselves wide open."

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