Man the Turrets, We’re Under Attack

Well, it may not be a conscious attack but we appear to be under attack nonetheless.

I received a phone call from my hosting provider a few days ago. That in itself was a surprise but when he told me that my site (sklapsky.ca) was experiencing high levels of traffic, and that there may be a problem, he got my attention. In the worst case it may mean deleting the site and beginning again. Best case I may be able to do something relatively simple and mitigate the problem. It could be a virus, another problem within the site (software), or ????

Now, I appreciate you may not have, or want to have, any knowledge of website workings. Perhaps the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff is best left there, behind the scenes. But suffice it to say the site (sklapsky.ca) was seeing an inordinate number of “hits”, which is internet speak for the number of individual visits to the site. Those visits can be by human or computer, or a combination of both. Each hit uses computer power of the host, the company that provides the website ‘home’. Too many hits means that too many of the host’s resources are being used just to service the needs of one client. The host may have many thousands of clients, each demanding enough horsepower to service their needs.

In my/our case there were about 274,000 hits/visits in Aug.. That is very high, and much higher than normal for a site the size of this one. As a result the percentage of the host’s resources devoted to us were disproportionately high. It appeared we were under attack, from within or without. Unlikely they were visits by long-lost cousins, much as I’d wish. Time to put on my Sherlock hat.

Some research has led me to believe the assault is external, not a virus or anything internal to the site. That, at least, is good news. I suspect it is ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’, electronic visitors that map out your site for content. There can be thousands of spiders visit daily.

I’ve since put some things in place to hopefully reduce the effects of the attack. It’s my hope and plan that any additional, more significant, changes will not be required. Again the worst case is that the whole site will have to be taken down (erased) and built again. That’s a task I don’t relish, as you might imagine.

If I’ve manned the turrets appropriately the problem may go away. Let’s just hope we have enough ammo.

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