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Who IS our “Daddy” now?

So picture this…it’s a fairly quiet Monday (as Mondays go) at Missing Link.  We all go out to lunch to celebrate the anniversary of our tenth year in business.  Good times.

We come back in from lunch and shortly thereafter, well – SkyNet begins to takeover the planet (if any of you are Terminator fans, you get the reference…if not, sorry)!

We start getting a few service calls that seem normal enough at first – except that as we go to respond to them, some of our own tools start to misbehave.  Throw in a text or two from friends and associates warning me that our emails are bouncing (we have LOTS of warnings and alerts that should be telling me these things before a lady from church via a text message!). 

Now we’re in full combat mode – troubleshooting our own problems so that we can assist with the sudden, crazy ones our customers are seeing.

From there, things go downhill for the next couple of hours until…everything clears up…all on its own.  SkyNet is dead and the humans have won…for now.

Only later did we learn that a  hacker group (supposedly) had taken down GoDaddy.com for a few hours.

For those of you non-technical folks out there, GoDaddy.com, along with Register.com and Network Solutions, is one of the larger companies who register and maintain Internet Domain Names (like www.YourBusiness.com).  They can also host your web site, email or do one of a number of other things; however, their primary purpose, as far as many small businesses are concerned, is to register and host their internet domain name and DNS records.

This is where the problems REALLY came from today.

Imagine the Internet as one gigantic library and DNS as the Card Catalog System (takes you back, doesn’t it?).  When someone wants to visit your web site or send you an email, their computer (or server – just go with me here) has to reference this catalog (or DNS) to know how to find your systems.

Just like us, their systems don’t remember the information they lookup indefinitely (or we could never move our email or web sites), so they have to periodically check back with the card catalog (DNS) to get new information.

Today, the hackers effectively “hid” the entire card catalog from the whole internet for a few hours.  Those folks who had “looked up” information recently were ok but anyone else…well, they just found a big empty spot on the carpet where the catalog used to sit.

All over the world, email bounced and web sites vanished into thin air – not because the data was gone…but because computers didn’t know how to find it.

Now there are a lot of people giving GoDaddy a really hard time right now over this.  I’m not going to pretend I’m happy about how our afternoon went at Missing Link.

But let’s face it – some very big organizations have been taken down by hackers before.  GoDaddy isn’t the first and won’t be the last.  Franky, I wouldn’t want to start throwing rocks from my glass house if I was running one of these big companies.  There have to be some pretty smart guys working at GoDaddy to do what they do.

I’m also not sure this is a case where we “take our business elsewhere” over this one incident.  Does GoDaddy have some crazy marketing and cheap prices (maybe the WalMart of the internet?) – yes…but this could have just as easily been one of their competitors.

Unfortunately, this DNS area is not one where we can have a great deal of redundancy either.  Some steps can be taken (I’ll be looking into some of my internal setup for sure) but this isn’t an easy area to shore up due to the way the internet was designed.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Aside from the normal “due diligence” we should normally use when choosing vendors for our business products, my only advice is to “expect the unexpected”.  As the world around us becomes ever more fascinating with phones, tablets and connections to the internet everywhere we turn, let’s just remember to “look before leaping”.

A bit of research on Google before downloading that latest cool “app” or signing up for the “service” you heard about on the radio is probably in order.  Ask other business owners – and your I.T. professional – what they think about the product or service.

Call Missing Link today at (859) 294-LINK if you have questions about DNS, GoDaddy or anything else relating to I.T. and your business!

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