Disclaimer: my life has not actually been saved by LinkedIn.  A man called Steve once saved my life by grabbing hold of me just as I was about to walk out in front of a car (thanks Steve!).

A couple of months ago a server I have hosted with MediaTemple fell over.  It had been attacked by a fairly persistent hacker – a basic denial of service attack, where heaps of traffic is sent your way in the anticipation that your server will crash and people will not be able to access the websites on that server. From (the ever reliable …) Wikipedia:

 an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of efforts to temporarily or indefinitely interrupt or suspend services of a host connected to the Internet

So. Really, I’ve been hosting websites for the better part of 10 years and this is the first time I’ve had such a problem – honestly, I tried to count myself as lucky in that regard. However, when you’re going through it you don’t feel lucky. I had maybe a dozen clients hosted on that server – some in the US, some in Ireland and some in the UK … so I was getting understandably frantic calls from a variety of time zones.
Denial of Service

Thankfully, the web host themselves were really helpful – they increased my resources flexibly so that I could at least work on the server whilst we resolved the problem. But the real help came from the LinkedIn community.

The first thing I did was posted a question on LinkedIn to all server managers – asking how best to tell whether the security of the server had been compromised. Then, as a follow up question, how I could detect and prevent such attacks in the future.

Within 20 minutes I had half a dozen really helpful sysadmin’s helping me with the problem – and ended up with a good few software recommendations that I was able to install on the server within an hour or so.

Good stuff. A problem that was really stressful was dealt with calmly by system professionals – using me as their willing conduit!  I made some great contacts there and can’t recommend the LinkedIn community enough.

Some of the solutions I looked at (I implemented 2 of these):