The Arab satellite television network Al-Jazeera suffered a second day of sustained distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against its English and Arabic language Web sites on Wednesday.
The attacks have pushed the network, which is based in Doha, Qatar, off the Web for the time being and forced Al-Jazeera to increase bandwidth for the sites and step up security in a desperate effort to get back online.
"All of our Web sites are down. The U.S. [Web site] is out of order and the Europe [Web site] is under attack. We come up for five or ten minutes and then the attacks bring us down again," said Salah AlSeddiqi, IT manager at Al-Jazeera.
AlSeddiqi and others describe a powerful and coordinated attack on Al-Jazeera's Web sites that began on March 25, shortly after the network published photos of U.S. soldiers who had been taken prisoner by Iraqi forces inside Iraq.
Beginning on Tuesday, Al-Jazeera was hit with traffic in excess of 200 Mbps and up to 300 Mbps, he said.
The network's Web sites typically receive traffic in the range of 50 or 60 Mbps. With the commencement of hostilities, however, traffic to Al-Jazeera's sites had spiked to more than 150 Mbps, AlSeddiqi said.
The attacks were described as a DNS (Domain Name System) flood attack by Joanne Tucker, managing editor of Al-Jazeera's English language Web site, whose address is http://english.aljazeera.net.
DNS flood attacks send a high volume of Internet traffic to the name servers that are responsible for a particular Web domain, rendering those servers unresponsive.
In response to the attacks, Al-Jazeera attempted to increase its bandwidth allocation, but the attackers scaled their efforts to meet the increase, according to AlSeddiqi.
As a result of the sustained attacks, the Qatarcompany that managed the site told Al-Jazeera on Wednesday that its U.S.-based hosting company said it could no longer continue to host the sites because of the effect of the attacks on other customer Web sites, AlSeddiqi said.
That company, DataPipe, a service of Hoboken Web Services, in Hoboken, New Jersey, said in a statement that it provided hosting services to the Qatarcompany that managed the Al-Jazeera site, but had ended its relationship with that company.
DataPipe did not have a contract or a relationship with Al-Jazeera itself, the company said.
Al-Jazeera was told that its site would continue to be hosted only until the end of March, AlSeddiqi said.
The recent attacks and the decision by one of its Web hosting companies has IT staff at Al-Jazeera suspicious of larger forces that may be at work.
"We feel it's an organization with knowhow and money. They have very powerful machines to do [the attack] and someone to pay for the bandwidth," AlSeddiqi said.
Tucker expressed concerns that the attacks may be part of a coordinated effort to silence the network for coverage that has been critical of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
"It's a strategy to block access to the site to legitimate visitors. The problem is that any content or information that doesn't boost U.S. morale or unify public opinion might be perceived as a threat to the war effort," Tucker said.