Hackers take down in a failed extortion attempt

October 1, 2015 04:19 PM

Hackers took down online electronics retailer Newegg Inc.’s e-commerce site last night, hoping to extort an unspecified amount of money, in the form of bitcoin digital currency, the company says.

Reports of problems with Newegg’s site began surfacing on Twitter just before 7 p.m. Central last night. About 30 minutes later, Newegg acknowledged on its Twitter feed that customers were experiencing problems accessing Technicians were able to partially blunt the attack early on, but problems continued throughout the night, the company said.

“Certain IP addresses took longer than others to resolve and customers had issues for about five hours,” Newegg chief operating officer James Wu says.

The disruption was a “garden-variety” distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that likely originated from Russia, Wu says, and was an unsuccessful attempt at shaking down the retailer for money.

“The attackers were blackmailing us for bitcoin,” he says, though he didn’t specify how much money the hackers were seeking. “We didn’t pay, of course, and we are taking preventative measures against future attacks.”

Newegg is No. 17 in the 2015 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

While Newegg did not say how many computers were involved in an attack, in most cases criminals seeking to take down a site infect many computers, sometimes thousands, with software that directs traffic to the target website, seeking to overload it and make it inaccessible. Because many computers are involved, these exploits are typically referred to as distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks. 

In its most recent “State of the Internet” report, content delivery network and web security firm Akamai Technologies Inc. uncovered approximately 656 DDoS attacks in the second quarter of 2015. 2.6% of those attacks targeted retail or consumer goods sites, suggesting that about 17 retail websites came under a denial-of-service attacks. Akamai does not identify targeted clients.




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