BBC website knocked offline by large-scale attack

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1 Jan, 2016

Although the corporation said a technical error was at fault, a news story on the website claimed a web attack was responsible

The BBC's website went offline yesterday morning for around five hours, following a large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

When the outage first occurred, at around 7AM in the morning, the corporation said a technical error was at fault, rather than an outside attack.

"We're aware of a technical issue affecting the BBC website and are working to fix this now. We'll update you as soon as we can," the BBC wrote on Twitter shortly after its website went down.

Following the problems, users of the news website were shown an internal error message, saying it was experiencing abnormal traffic to its network or the service or server it was operating on was not available. It suggested trying again later or using the website's site index.

A number of BBC services were affected by the attack, including the main website, iPlayer TV and radio catchup service and the company's iPlayer Radio app.

The BBC managed to get the majority of services and pages back up and running at around 10.30AM, although it wasn't until midday when the public service broadcaster announced all its services were once again running normally.

"The BBC website is now back up and operating normally. We apologise for any inconvenience you may have experienced," the company added on Twitter.

The BBC's technology correspondent, Rory Cellan Jones suggested the problems were down to a DDoS attack. "Sources - BBC suffered a DdOS - a distributed denial of service attack. But services are now being restored," he wrote on the social network.

Professor Tim Watson, director of cyber security at the University of Warwick, told The Telegraph: “The BBC site will expect lots of traffic and they are a high profile target so you would expect them to have all kind of protection against a DDos attack."

He added: “They will be used to having lots of visitors but usually people visit the site at different times and are not repeatedly asking for lots of information."

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