The Aging Rebel was offline for about eight hours yesterday due to what was described at the time as “an extremely advanced botnet attack that is targeting WordPress logins. The nature and rate of the attacks make it hard to block, and it can cause host servers to run out of available resources rather quickly.”
It was the third major botnet attack in the last two months and the attacks are probably related. A “botnet” is a malicious network of thousands of “zombie” computers with thousands of separate Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses. Briefly stated, botnets overpower their targets by demanding that the target computer respond to more internet requests than the target can handle.
An attack in the middle of March was aimed at a service called Spamhaus and was probably initiated by spammers in Russia. Spamhaus identifies the IP addresses of known spammers.
An attack on April 15 specifically targeted WordPress sites. WordPress is a content management program that is used by about 16 percent of all websites including UPS, eBay, the New York Times and The Aging Rebel. The April attack was conducted by a botnet comprising about 90,000 computers. In April there was widespread speculation that the botnet used in that attack was intended to find vulnerabilities that would allow the assembly of an even larger botnet.
That larger and improved botnet seems to be what caused yesterday’s shutdown.