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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Anger over web hosting hitches
Bargainhost's website
Bargainhost beginning to seem less of a bargain to customers
A internet company which hosts thousands of websites has been hit by hackers again.

Around 3,000 customers of web hosting firm Bargainhost.co.uk found their websites affected for a second time in two months.

According to the firm, the hackers posted anti-war slogans on "most of our customers websites".

Some had their sites defaced and some found that their sites disappeared completely over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Luck running out

We realise how much this downtime has affected our customers as we feel your pain as well
James Innes, Bargainhost
Bargainhost was forced to re-install two Linux servers but all backups were lost and the firm spent the next few days manually recreating all 3,000 customer accounts.

This is the second embarrassing hack attack for the company, which lost around 1,500 customer accounts in a similar attack in April.

While three of the servers were down for just two hours, a further two were badly affected.

"We did not have much luck with servers one and three," said information technology manager James Innes in a letter to customers.

"On further investigation we found files that were impossible to delete and all kinds of strange code," he said.

The clean-up could not be carried out over the Bank Holiday weekend "as we did not have an engineer available", said Mr Innes.

Website response

For one of Bargainhost's customers, the latest problem was the final straw.

Ian Stacey runs a football supporters' site and was affected by the hack attack in April.

On 23 May his site disappeared completely.

The amount of time taken to rectify the problem and lack of communication from Bargainhost led Mr Stacey to launch a website called IHateBargainHost.co.uk.

One of Bargain Host's other servers went down last Sunday and I still don't have access to it to replace my data. Incompetence at it finest
David Elliston, Bargainhost customer
It has been attracting a growing band of interest from disgruntled Bargainhost customers, many of which have found it very difficult to contact the firm.

Customers have been advised by Bargainhost to keep their own back-up and those without websites will have to rebuild their sites themselves.

Mr Innes pleads for leniency from angry punters.

"We realise how much this downtime has affected our customers as we feel your pain as well," he said in a notice to customers.

"Our support staff have been under undue stress because of these problems, can you imagine trying to deal with 200 - 300 requests a day?" he asked.

"A polite message to our helpdesk with your problems will help to speed up your response," he added.

Users remain unimpressed. Customer David Elliston's tale is typical.

"Having had a week of one of my sites being down in April before I restored it myself, I now have the same problem with another of my sites," he explained in an e-mail to BBC News Online.

"One of Bargain Host's other servers went down last Sunday and I still don't have access to it to replace my data.

"Incompetence at it finest," he said.

Bargainhost is run by Mr Innes and his brother with computer support outsourced to a company in India.

He admitted that the hacking incidents have meant the firm has lost customers and is struggling to cope with the latest attack.

Mr Innes suggested that a Bargainhost customer was responsible for the attack.

He assured BBC News Online that the company now has a secure firewall and will also be using an outsourced firm to monitor its security in future.


SEE ALSO:
Hacker causes havoc for websites
24 Apr 03  |  Technology
Students learn art of computer hacking
14 Apr 03  |  West Yorkshire
Anti-war hacking rises sharply
26 Mar 03  |  Technology
Commuters hack wireless networks
26 Mar 03  |  Technology


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