Attack cause Intuit Web-hosting service outage?

Customer service representative says outage at websites.intuit.com appears to be due to a denial-of-service attack.

Elinor Mills
Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer

Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.

2 min read

Intuit's Web-hosting service for small businesses remained inaccessible for several hours today--possibly due to a denial-of-service attack, a customer service representative told CNET.

The Web hosting service, at www.websites.intuit.com, had been out at least two hours and would hopefully be back up by the end of the business day, the customer service rep said. Asked if it could be the result of a DOS attack, she said: "It's looking like an attack."

Intuit spokespeople could not immediately confirm what the phone rep said but said the sites were back up. However, checks by CNET employees on the West Coast and East Coast found that site still down as of 3:30 p.m. PDT.

Other Intuit sites, such as www.intuit.com, remained accessible this afternoon.

A company spokeswoman said she was looking into the matter.

In an interesting side note, one of the sites hosted by Intuit that remained inaccessible, Cooks Source, had been embroiled in a public dispute with an outside author over content that was allegedly used in the magazine without permission. The Washington Post reported about a backlash on the Cooks Source Facebook page after the matter became public.

In a letter the Cooks Source editor supposedly wrote to the author (portions of which are posted on the author's blog), the food site editor claimed that content on the Internet is "public domain," told the writer she should be happy the site didn't just "lift" the entire article and remove the byline, and said the original article was "in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally [sic]."

Update, November 5 at 4:25 p.m. PDT: Intuit released this statement today and declined to elaborate:

The recent service interruption to Intuit Website services, Intuit's platform to host customer Web sites, has been fully restored. For almost all our affected customers, the outage lasted for around two and a half hours between 12 p.m. and 2:30 pm. PT on Thursday. For a very small group, the trouble lasted through the afternoon and evening.

This outage was caused by a denial-of-service attack. We worked with the network service providers to contain it at the network level, and no customer data was compromised. We are continuing to monitor the situation actively and are fully prepared to defend ourselves against future attacks.