The website of Meetup (meetup.com), the social networking portal that facilitates real world meetings between its members, has been hit with a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack.
The attack started on the morning of February 27, and the website and apps have been mostly down ever since. The company says customer data is secure, but their servers can’t handle the large amount of traffic coming their way.
These days, Meetup has made several attempts to restore services, but just as everything was becoming widely accessible, a new attack would be launched.
In a blog post published a few hours ago, Meetup CEO and co-founder Scott Heiferman revealed that moments before the attack started, he received an email in which a cybercriminal allegedly hired by a competitor threatened to launch an attack on the Meetup website unless the company would agree to pay $300 (€217).
“A competitor asked me to perform a DDoS attack on your website. I can stop the attack for $300 USD. Let me know if you are interested in my offer,” the email read.
Heiferman says they’ve decided not to pay up mainly because they don’t want to negotiate with criminals.
Secondly, the company believes that if they pay, the attacker would simply ask for more money. That’s because while the amount of money demanded by the cybercriminals is not large, their attacks are sophisticated, suggesting that the small ransom demand is simply a trick.
Furthermore, paying up once could make Meetup a target for future extortion demands, particularly if other cybercriminals find out that the company is willing to pay.
Finally, Heiferman says they’re confident that they can eventually mitigate this attack, even if it takes some time.
“Please know that while we will not pay the criminals, YOU CAN COUNT ON MEETUP to be stable and reliable soon. We’ll continue to work diligently to restore the site and the apps, to bring back all features, and to minimize the effects of the service outages,” Heiferman noted in his blog post.
“This is an attack on everyone who believes that people are powerful together. We live in a world where criminals can make extortion threats against an organization like ours and temporarily frustrate millions of people,” he added.
“But we also live in a world where organizers start new Meetup Groups, members show up, people start talking, and communities form. Our platform is built around a simple idea — that if Meetup helps people to find the others, we will all be more powerful and will create the kind of world we want to live in together.”