In what could be named a coincidence or an organized occurrence, a new development has come to light in the aftermath of the Daily Stormer uproar that’s been hitting the headlines for the past few weeks.
The white supremacist and neo-Nazi website were under fire for posting hateful comments about the counter-protestor who was killed at an alt-right rally a few weeks ago in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Just as soon as the site had managed to find a hosting server that would tolerate its posts, that server was also attacked.
DreamHost faced a typically distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack—was it due to the company’s agreement to provide a space for The Daily Stormer to exist online? The jury is still out on that one.
Before DDoS Attack, Site Removed Due to Offensive Contents
Daily Stormer was removed from web hosting firms like GoDaddy because it carried offensive contents that tried to glorify the violence that occurred in Charlottesville recently.
There were reports that Daily Stormer had relocated its website to the dark web.
But apparently DreamHost, one of the biggest in the web hosting business, agreed to host the site, but not in the same name.
The site was renamed Punishedstormer.com. And the DDoS attack happened within hours the site’s presence was known to be public.
DDoS Attack Impacted Large Number of Websites
The reality is, as mentioned, DreamHost is home to websites in excess of a million and a half, and they could range from a church in the U.K. to an online gaming website.
Almost all of them went down for several hours until the web hosting company was made aware of the outage and went about repairing the server.
Another Angle Discussed with DDoS Attack
Apart from speculation that the DDoS attack was in connection to the Daily Stormer, there is one more link being looked into.
This relates to the website DisruptJ20, a site that’s home to postings against the U.S. President Donald Trump.
The site came under scrutiny, and the U.S. Department of Justice asked the company to submit details about the visitors of this anti-Trump website.
DreamHost has not agreed to hand over the data.
So, was the DDoS attack orchestrated as a threat to the popular hosting company? Again, the attack was perpetrated by nameless attackers, and unless an investigation can reveal their identities (which isn’t likely), then it may be difficult to attribute a real motive behind this DDoS attack.
Nonetheless, DreamHost has since canceled Daily Stormer’s account.
DDoS Attacks Don’t Have a Permanent Impact
Unlike cyberattacks that are orchestrated to steal victims’ data, DDoS attacks are carried out with a simple method—to bombard the hosting server with such an excessive amount of traffic that it eventually succumbs to a crash.
During this time, it is difficult to trace back the IP addresses of the devices sending this traffic.
In this particular case with DreamHost, DDoS attackers targeted the Domain Name Servers (DNS), which brought the traffic to a broad range of sites before the crash.
After any given DDoS attack, it usually takes technical teams hours to mitigate the problem.
But since DreamHost’s task was to restore 1.5 million websites to their normal status, the process naturally took more time.
Still, the repercussions of the DDoS attack were minimal, only lasting for a temporary period.
Anti-Trump Issue May Come Back
Though DreamHost managed to fend off efforts by the DoJ to collect data on visitors to the anti-Trump website hosted on its server, the issue is not closed yet.
The authorities have now scaled down their request to retrieve only the contents.
There is even a possibility that the authorities might be able to get a search warrant issued and force the web hosting firm to part with information it feels is compromising to users’ privacy.
DreamHost may have to live with that threat in the times to come.
What is in store for websites like Daily Stormer that adopt such extreme ideological positions? In the brick and mortar world, the law could take its course.
Anyone indulging in or instigating violence can be arrested and put behind bars to avoid any untoward incidents.
But online, faceless users can write anything they please about a particular community or an individual.
And, often times, the consequences are minimal or even non-existent.
Given the political turmoil occurring in the U.S. right now, it’s hard to determine the best way to stop bigotry and hate from erupting online or entering the physical world and causing violence.
And it will be interesting to see what the coming months and years might bring.
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