On September 10, 2012 GoDaddy was attacked by a hacker organization and almost all of their client sites were inaccessible for most of the day. Ultimately GoDaddy was able to restore service, no sites were lost, and no client data was compromised, but many other vendors took advantage of the opportunity to invite GoDaddy customers to move to a “better” service. So today’s question is “should you move your site off GoDaddy?”
In interest of full disclosure, I have to say that we use and recommend GoDaddy for DNS services. We don’t recommend their hosting services, but only because our clients use WordPress, and we don’t feel that GoDaddy implements WordPress well. We find GoDaddy’s advertising to be offensive, but their DNS services have always been rock solid in our experience.
GoDaddy was attacked by an organized group of international hackers who targeted them due to GoDaddy’s support of the SOPA law. (Disclosure: we don’t support SOPA either, but we don’t resort to terrorism to enforce our views.) The attack was characterized as a denial of service attack. Basically the hackers overwhelm the target’s servers with billions of simultaneous requests until the servers are completely saturated and cannot respond to anything else. Imagine someone organizing 2 million people to all converge on a local store and ask for a drink of water exactly at the same time. Nobody gets hurt, but the store is completely disabled until the 2 million people leave.
Denial of service attacks are very hard to defend against. They have been used successfully against everyone from Amazon.com to the FBI. Being big and powerful doesn’t help if enough resources are used to attack you. Any major hosting firm will fail if attacked in this way by enough hackers.
While we still don’t like GoDaddy’s advertising, or their position on SOPA, we can’t agree that this attack shows them to be a weaker hosting company than any others. None of their competitors could have withstood that attack either.
So if you don’t like exploitation of women for advertising, or if you don’t agree with SOPA, then feel free to move your business away from GoDaddy. Those are both valid reasons. But if you think moving your site to another vendor will make it “safer”, you are probably mistaken. The terrible reality today is that a large organized group of hackers can take down any service today if they choose. There is no reason to believe that their next target won’t be your new host.