Amazon: Outage due to hardware not hackers

A Sunday night outage that brought down Amazon Web sites in Europe was the result of hardware failure, not hacking attempts, according to the online retailer.

An outage that took down some of Amazon's European Web sites yesterday was caused by hardware error and not hackers, according to the company.

The online retailer's shopping sites in the U.K, France, Spain, and Germany were down for about half an hour starting around 9:15 p.m. GMT, leading to initial speculation that Amazon had been hit by hackers associated with the pro-WikiLeaks group Anonymous.

But in a statement released to Reuters, Amazon attributed the cause to hardware problems.

"The brief interruption to our European retail sites earlier today was due to hardware failure in our European data center network and not the result of a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attempt," an Amazon representative told Reuters. Specifically, the hardware-related issue occurred at an Amazon hosting center in Dublin, which hosts the various European sites that were affected, according to the Register.

Amazon ran afoul of pro-WikiLeaks activists earlier this month after it decided to kick the controversial Web site off its EC2 Web hosting service. In retaliation, some members of the Anonymous group reportedly called for action against the retailer, but so far Amazon apparently has been left alone.

"Simply put, attacking a major online retailer when people are buying presents for their loved ones would be in bad taste," Anonymous explained late last week in an apparent press release.

The decision to spare Amazon is in sharp contrast to the DDoS attacks that Anonymous has launched against such companies as PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard for their roles in cutting off payments to WikiLeaks.