Data Beam

March 2004 The Independent Journal of the eBay Community FREE EDITION

eAuctionTimes Alert
HammerSnipe & AuctionStealer crash,
cancelling thousands of eBay bids

(Updated March 28, 2004) -- The eBay auction sniping service provided by HammerSnipe / AuctionStealer crashed and failed to place bids beginning the afternoon of March 19 and continuing through the weekend into Monday, March 22.

Many HammerSnipe users were unaware of the problem, though, since neither HammerTap nor AuctionStealer posted warnings on their Web sites, and AuctionStealer continued sending out email confirmations to some users indicating that their bids would be sniped.

The result was that thousands of winning bids didn't get placed. Said one HammerSnipe user on the HammerSnipe Forum, "I have maybe 75-100 items scheduled to bid every day. In the past 24 hours I have not had one bid placed. Zero for 75 is pretty much not working."

Another HammerSnipe user said, "I had six items on eBay that were to be bid on before the crash [and I got] no explanation, no email about a problem. I can understand problems but at least notify the customers." He said he would have won the auctions if his bids had been placed, adding "I'm not a happy camper."

AuctionStealer said the outage was produced by a large scale denial of service attack on AuctionStealer. "Our ISP was forced to block all traffic that goes to the AuctionStealer Network in order to minimize service interruptions for their other customers. Our engineers and their engineers worked through the night to try to rectify the situation."

By early on Monday, March 22, HammerSnipe was back in operation, but then a secondary denial of service attack took the network down again. By the night of March 22, it appeared that HammerSnipe and AuctionStealer were fully functional again.

Last year, AuctionStealer was the target of hackers several times. In February 2003, AuctionStealer's security was breached during the Slammer Worm (virus) attack and some users' eBay passwords could have been stolen.

Then in May a group of supposedly Russian hackers attempted to extort $30,000 from AuctionStealer by threatening to close the site down with a denial of service attack. When AuctionStealer refused to negotiate, the hackers launched the attack, which took AuctionStealer and HammerSnipe out of operation for several days.

© Copyright 2004 by Bruce Brown and BF Communications Inc.

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