Marketwired Blog

Go Daddy Go(es) Down

Yesterday afternoon the popular domain registrar GoDaddy came under attack by a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous. This was actually an interesting attack because we’ve seen Anonymous take down websites before, but this time they managed to take out almost every website with any affiliation to GoDaddy. Not only were sites that were hosted by GoDaddy down, but even sites that were hosted somewhere else, but still used GoDaddy as their nameserver and DNS (meaning they registered their URL through GoDaddy, but point that URL to their hosting elsewhere) were out of commission. Even us here at Sysomos weren’t safe as GoDaddy provided our DNS (thankfully we’re back at 100% and didn’t miss a beat with our data collection as that happens somewhere else).

GoDaddy is the largest domain registrar in the world, with over 45 million websites, so when something like this happens, a lot of people notice. But just how many people? Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, we investigated.

Doing a search for people mentioning GoDaddy on Monday I found almost 124,000 mentions. There were 1,207 blog posts, 1,625 online news articles, 1,289 forum postings, and 119,740 tweets talking about GoDaddy. I would also suspect that the number of blogs that will report on the attack will rise today as many were probably relying on GoDaddy’s service and not able to blog yesterday.

The amount of tweets was actually quite impressive. When I looked at just the Twitter activity by itself it turned out that GoDaddy tweets averaged out to just under 5,000 tweets per hour. But that’s dividing the number by 24 hours in the day. The attack didn’t take GoDaddy down until around 2pm(EST) in the afternoon, meaning that most people weren’t mentioning GoDaddy until that time and that the news spread very quickly and was being talked about at incredible levels.

The talk that I found going on in these conversations seemed to be people spreading the news, as this many websites being taken out at one time does constitute big news. Right in the center of both our word cloud and buzzgraph we can see “GoDaddy” and their “claimed” attackers “Anonymous.” We can also see words related to the attack like “DNS” and “outages” for “millions” of “websites.”

While the incident was an unfortunate one, it was interesting to see the way that it was handled. Both by GoDaddy and others. Since Twitter saw the most action talking about the outage, I pulled up the most retweeted tweets about GoDaddy from the day. Looking at the top six retweeted tweets that day, three of them were from GoDaddy themselves. GoDaddy took the initiative to reach out to their customers through Twitter to keep them updated on what was going on. Since millions of people were affected by the downtime, there was no way that they could answer every email that was coming in (if they were even able to access their emails). So instead they took to Twitter where they could reach a large amount of people in the quickest possible time. They told their customers that they were aware of the issues and working on it. In today’s world where a lot of people keep up-to-date on breaking news through Twitter, this is the smartest thing that the company could have done. Their customers helped to spread the word by retweeting the messages. However, none of their messages were retweeted enough to be the most RT’d GoDaddy tweet of the day.

The most retweeted tweet actually went to one of GoDaddy’s competitors who also did something smart. Noticing the issues that GoDaddy was having, HostGator saw an opportunity and jumped on it. I’ve often said that a smart part of social media monitoring is to look for where your competition fails and use it your advantage. In this case, HostGator saw the issues that GoDaddy was having and seized that problem to offer people a chance to switch to their hosting service with a 30% discount and even came up with the smart promocodes to give those switchers “godaddyisdown” and “reliablehosting” taking a stab right at their competition.

In my opinion, both GoDaddy and HostGator played the situations exactly as they should of (albiet it came at the expense of millions of site owners). What do you think? Did these companies use social media properly given the situation? Let us know in the comments.

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