Local News

Monday, Sep 10 2012 07:09 PM

GoDaddy outage reveals local tech vulnerabilities

BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer smayer@bakersfield.com

When the website and email system for Limousine Scene was knocked offline Monday, the company's general manager, Jim Luff, was not immediately sure why.

Eventually, he learned that GoDaddy, which hosts millions of websites globally including Limousine Scene's, had apparently been attacked by malicious hackers.

"It had a major effect on us," Luff said Monday afternoon. "Seventy percent of our reservations are done electronically -- through email or a direct link to our website."

Not only that, the company's official rate book was online only, so representatives speaking with customers on the phone couldn't immediately quote accurate rates.

"That changes today," Luff said.

The problems began shortly after 10 a.m., and for many, the outages reportedly continued into Monday evening. But Luff said his system was back online sometime around 3:15 p.m.

Rick Kreiser, president of Carney's Business Technology, said the Bakersfield company's website is not hosted by GoDaddy and was not affected by the outages. However, a few of Carney's clients were experiencing outages.

"I think the real takeaway here is that this serves to demonstrate the vulnerably of our reliance -- sometimes blind reliance -- on the way this stuff works," Kreiser said.

On the one hand, digital technology provides unprecedented convenience, reliability and efficiency. But when it goes down, it can paralyze us.

"This is the new battleground," Kreiser said.

Like Carney's, the computer network at ARRC Technology in Bakersfield was not directly affected by the problems GoDaddy was experiencing, said ARRC co-owner and corporate administrator Monique Rogers. But Rogers and network operations engineer Wil Butterworth wanted to do whatever they could to help clients who were affected. Unfortunately, the outages were out of their control.

"GoDaddy is one of the least expensive out there," Rogers said.

There's nothing intermently wrong with shopping for a cheaper product, she said. But sometimes you get what you pay for.

"You have to look at security -- and its ability to support a business."

Rogers likened hackers to car thieves. With all the time and resources in the world, they could probably eventually penetrate some of the best security systems. But that's not how they typically work. They're looking for the car with the unlocked door, maybe with the keys in the ignition.

For his part, Luff said he'll probably give GoDaddy the benefit of the doubt and stick with it for now -- despite his concerns.

"I imagine it's a possibility we did lose at least some business," he said.

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