GoDaddy outage causes pain for small businesses, exposes responsibility of choosing hosting provider

Domain name registrar and hosting giant GoDaddy suffered a massive outage overnight that caused millions of websites to crash, with many of those belonging to small and medium businesses.

Although such a widespread crash is rare and unavoidable for customers, experts say there is still work to be done in deciding which cloud providers to use and those to avoid.

“There is a certain loss of control that small businesses have to accept in order to use the cloud,” AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon told SmartCompany this morning.

GoDaddy confirmed it had suffered an attack last night, shortly after users had noticed their websites became inaccessible.

The company said on Twitter it experienced an outage and that it is working to fix the problem. As of this morning, AEST time, most sites are up and running.

“We’re still working. Getting closer to normal,” the company tweeted this morning.

The hacking group Anonymous has claimed responsibility for the attacks, although the company says it is still investigating the cause.

But the incident highlights a significant problem for SMEs. While many are told to keep an eye on web security and make sure confidential customer details are kept under wraps, there is nothing that can be done about a hosting company that suffers an outage.

The viability of an entire website is outsourced.

As McKinnon explains, while this may be a better solution than a business hosting its own website, it also comes with the responsibility of choosing the best hosting provider.

“One of the interesting dilemmas here is that if this was a targeted attack on a small business, and they chose to host themselves, they could be down for days or even weeks.”

Some businesses choose to host their websites on their own, as opposed to using a provider. This can be more costly, but provides more control and customisation. However, there are downsides.

“Whereas a large cloud provider is actually available to more readily cope with this situation on a mass scale because of the size of its infrastructure.”

McKinnon says it’s up to small businesses to pick their hosting provider, and they need to put a great deal of care in doing so. While a larger company may suffer an outage, it’s more likely to get things up and running quicker. A smaller provider – as some small businesses have discovered – can suffer an outage and wait for days to get back online.

“It’s just something they need to think about,” McKinnon says.

“The cloud lowers costs. But it’s not without its faults, and this is a clear example of that. Businesses just need to be aware of what they’re going into.”



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