Customers of a large New Zealand website design company have had their websites shut down due to a cyber attack believed to target one or more of the company’s customers.
Customers of Zeald were informed on Thursday that some clients had experienced outages with their websites in recent weeks.
The company, formed in 2001, with thousands of customers in New Zealand and Australia, has told clients the outages were caused by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
These attacks attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. They present a major challenge to making sure people can publish and access important information.
“Simply put, a DDoS attack simulates millions of computers trying to access a website at the same time. This puts tremendous stress on the online infrastructure, and can make access to a website difficult, or impossible,” the company said in its email.
“We believe these attacks are targeted at one of our customers,” it said.
It said the attacks were difficult to resolve and were a rapidly expanding class of security attack. They did not involve ‘hacking’ and did not lead to the loss of confidential information, but they made it impossible to access a site.
“They can be created by attackers with limited technical skill but options for dealing with them are extremely limited”.
“Working with our upstream providers, we have been able to stop these attacks temporarily by blocking international traffic. Unfortunately, these attacks keep resuming and are no longer isolated to international traffic alone. These attacks are also causing major issues for our upstream providers as well as the other websites and services that they provide,” it said.
“If you have experienced any kind of extortion attempt or communication threatening an attack like this please let us know. Any feedback regarding recent threats will be treated in the strictest confidence. If we know the target of the attack there are measures we can put in place to eliminate the problem”.