Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 24/01/2002What's happening on Cloud Nine, man? The ISP vanishes, users are left with email and Web sites suspended in digital limbo, and not a word can be had as to why.

Thursday 24/01/2002

What's happening on Cloud Nine, man? The ISP vanishes, users are left with email and Web sites suspended in digital limbo, and not a word can be had as to why. Well, that's not quite true: before they scurry off into the darkness, Cloud Nine says, "We suffered a denial of service attack that caused physical damage to our systems, and it'll be a while before we're back." Not unreasonably, the subscribers shouted "When will that be, eh?", but answer came there none.

Which leaves us, newshounds to a fault, with a tricky dilemma. Either Cloud Nine is being accurate about this amazing DoS, or it's not. Either way, it's a big story: if there is a way for hackers to physically damage equipment at a distance, then this is a problem a magnitude more enormous than any we've seen so far. It deserves to be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. If Cloud Nine has got it wrong, then why? And what hope is there for its subscribers?

We asked ourselves these questions -- we had to, because we could no more get hold of anyone involved than could those poor souls who'd paid good money. And anyway you cut it, it's not good news for that dispossessed tribe; even if Cloud Nine's routers had been fried by a passing nogoodnik, they should have had spares plugged in within the day and filters up to stop it happening again. They didn't, and as far as anyone can tell Cloud Nine is now trying to flog its subscriber base to another ISP.

All most strange, and most disconcerting. Big ISPs can be as atrocious in their way as little ones, but at least they don't vanish overnight leaving everyone in the dark. Much as one hates to perpetuate an environment where new companies with good ideas start at a disadvantage, Cloud Nine's problems just give more credence to the notion that you might as well suffer the big boys, 'cos at least you'll still have a Web site to call your own.

Unless, of course, you know different.

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