Zoho attack – what does it mean?

Over the last week Zoho have been very public that there is an attack against Zoho, the latest news can be found on their blog page. What does this Zoho attack mean and how does it impact customers data?

What is the Zoho attack?

For the last week Zoho has been suffering from a sustained “DDOS” attack, but what does that mean? DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. The theory behind it is very simple. The first generation of a DDOS attack was a DOS attack. A DOS attack was when a server was flooded with requests so that it was unable to deliver those requests. A DOS attack was a single point attacking another network. The easiest way to think about it is a motorway. A motorway has finite capacity, the more cars you put on the motorway the slower it gets and eventually it stops moving. It’s exactly the same with a DOS attack, web pages are repeatedly requested and at a point either the server or network can’t fulfil the requests and stops.

The solution to a DOS attack was simple, it was a single point of entry onto the network causing the problem. So you closed this point until the problem stopped or a solution was found. Again using the motorway analogy, if the origin of the traffic entering the motorway is all coming from junction 19 you either close junction 19 or slow access from junction 19.

A DDOS attack is more sophisticated as it is a number of computers (distributed) attacking the network at the same time. Potentially as you solve the problem in one area another flood from another direction can appear. This is why a DDOS attack is both complex and time consuming to fix.

Is my data safe?

The short answer is yes. A DDOS attack is not about breaking into computers to obtain customer data, it is about disruption of service – either slowing the service down or stopping it completely.

What is the impact of the Zoho attack?

A DDOS attack is about causing disruption to Zoho customers. The disruption is either a slow performance of it’s product or the product is inaccessible. Given this attack has been progressing since the 4th of November, we have actually seen very little disruption. Monday the 6th was probably the day that we have experienced the most problems.

For the latest view on uptime of Zoho’s product you can view their status page.

How is Zoho mitigating the Zoho attack?

All companies are very guarded about their security protocols, how they protect their network and how they resolve problems. For the latest updates as to how Zoho are solving the problem please visit their blog.

How common is a DDOS attack?

A DDOS attack is surprisingly common. It can affect any business from a SME to a Large Enterprise. It is more noticeably and common in Large Enterprise’s as it impacts more customers. Their is also more kudos and respect if a Large enterprise is impacted. Regrettably this kind of attack is also a compliment to Zoho, it means that they are sufficiently big in the IT world to consider investing a considerable amount of time and resource to make a sufficiently large attack.

Google, Microsoft and Sony have all suffered DDOS attacks in the last 12 months. What is unusual with the Zoho attack is how candid and public Zoho are about the attack. Normally companies don’t like to admit that they have been attacked and / or they are slow about articulating what has happened. Zoho recognise that it is important for their customers to be kept up to date, and their blog page is being regularly updated with the latest news and progress.