Network Solutions suffers DDoS attack, upsets customers with poor crisis communications

Graham Cluley

Network SolutionsSomeone out there has an almighty grudge against Network Solutions, the tech company well known for its domain registration services.

This week, the company has suffered from a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack which caused an outage within Network Solutions’ infrastructure.

Not that you would have known anything about it if you had checked out the company’s Facebook, Twitter account or website. When I first heard about the problem with Network Solutions’ systems yesterday they had made no official acknowledgement of any problem, leading to a lot of frustrated customers.

Network Solutions customers

I think most of us accept that internet companies can have technical difficulties from time-to-time, and – in the main – users are remarkably forgiving of companies that are pro-active, transparent and prepared to disclose what the heck is going on.

Sites like Twitter and Facebook are a perfect crisis communications platform for companies who are suffering a glitch, some unexpected downtime, or – worse – are finding their systems under attack from a crippling denial-of-service attack.

They provide a simple, public and direct method for communicating with concerned customers who will feel angry if left in the dark for too long.

As one customer wrote on Network Solutions’ Facebook page:

No FTP, Websites all down, no mail, no NS, nothing at all works! I am a webmaster and have many accounts with Net Sol. I need reliable service. I call support, go thru the queque system, and wait only to be cut off. Why can't you post a message on your support line telling us what the problem is?

I have been a NetSol loyal customer since the 1990s...
NetSol had great service and products, then WEB.COM purchased Net Sol. Nothing but headaches since then. WEB.COM you need to focus on your customers!

Even if all the facts aren’t known it’s better to tweet something saying “We know some users are experiencing a problem. We’re looking into it. We’ll post an update in 30 minutes” than saying nothing at all. That can take the wind out of the sails of customers who are getting more and more aggrieved the longer they feel their complaints are being ignored.

Network Solutions cares?

Tweeting hours later, once the issue has been resolved, just doesn’t cut the mustard.

There’s no disputing that Network Solutions is a victim here of a malicious attack designed to disrupt its business. It’s not pleasant for any internet firm to face the brunt of a co-ordinated DDoS attack designed to prevent customers from accessing your services.

But that’s no excuse for amateur communications with customers. Your customers will judge you by how well you handle crises like these, much more than how well you handle your triumphs.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

3 Replies to “Network Solutions suffers DDoS attack, upsets customers with poor crisis communications”

    1. There are companies who can help you fend off DDoS attacks. For instance, Prolexic, Incapsula, CloudFlare, etc…

      Of course, we don't know the details of the attack against Network Solutions and you won't be surprised to hear that they haven't published any details.

  1. Actually, even worse, they had actually posted something about this on their FB page, but then got too many comments on this and so they removed the post… I have pictures of it! :)

    We use CloudFlare and love their service / support!

    Patrick Steil

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