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When your hosting provider can’t stand the heat

Security is a concern for everyone involved in the web hosting industry, whether you are a hosting customer, hosting provider, software developer or datacenter administrator. The integrity of the network and the information it holds rests in the hands of all involved and, generally speaking, the protections put in place at all levels combine to keep the vast majority of accounts and the data stored within them safe. Despite the extensive security employed by most hosting firms, however, there do exist people with the intelligence and time necessary to exploit even the smallest and most obscure of holes via intuitive attacks and simple brute-forcing of requests.

Hosting provider HostedHere found this out recently as they faced a barrage of attacks aimed at well-known hacker turned security expect Kevin Mitnick and his consulting website, hosted on their servers. Mitnick made headlines in 1989 when he was first arrested for computer fraud before spending the next five years immersing himself in wire fraud, among other illegal activities. After an extensive search Mitnick was finally apprehended by the FBI at his home in North Carolina in 1995 and was convicted of wire fraud, computer fraud and illegally intercepting a wire transfer in 1999. After spending a total of five years behind bars, including over four years before his trial began, Mitnick stayed away from the darker side of his abilities and decided instead to open a security firm, offering his expertise to legitimate professionals.

Despite the turnaround in activities, Kevin Mitnick remained a high-profile target for attacks from other would-be hackers and his web site suffered three major attacks throughout the past two months, one of which caused a network-wide outage for HostedHere. As a result, his long-time relationship with HostedHere ended when they informed him this week that they could no longer provide him with services. This news came the same week that wireless provider AT&T also closed their services to Mitnick following his hiring of a lawyer to complain about breaches of his account with them as well. has since been moved to, a Plano, Texas company who apparently have more faith in their security than HostedHere, leaving the customers of the latter concerned about the well-being of their accounts and data. While HostedHere’s terms of service give them the legal ability to drop troublesome accounts like that of Mitnick, the act of doing so reveals a lack of confidence in their own security that shouldn’t be ignored by the industry at large. No host wants to be a target for malicious attacks but it seems that HostedHere could just as easily have spun these events to their advantage, ramping up security efforts in order to protect all of their clients, Kevin Mitnick included.

Whether or not FireHost, famous for its hacker-safe hosting infrastructure, can stand the heat of this high-profile client remains to be seen but the simple fact that they are willing to take a stand where HostedHere would not or could not should speak to current and future customers of both services as to where each stands on its commitment to improved security and commitment to their customers.

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One comment for “When your hosting provider can’t stand the heat”

  1. This certainly speaks volumes for both providers. Thanks for the info, Chris.

    Posted by Steve | Monday, August 24, 2009, 4:08 pm

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