GOZeus threat knocks out government-backed security site


Moments after the National Crime Agency (NCA) advised people to check the Get Safe Online website to find out how to protect themselves against the GOZeus and CryptoLocker malware, the website crashed.

Get Safe Online blamed the downtime on the fact too many people were trying to access the site at the same time. As a result, the servers couldn't complete requests and problems continued for two days, despite the team behind Get Safe Online trying to add extra capacity.

Although it was first suggested the site had been subject to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, it has since been confirmed the outage was caused by a high number of visitors accessing the site at once.

Capacity was quadrupled in response, but intermittent problems continued into Wednesday with some users still reporting they were unable to access the site.

The incident has raised concerns that the government would not be able to deal with a more vigorous cyber-security crisis.

Tony Neate, Get Safe Online's chief executive, said: "We're looking at what we can do to make sure this won't happen again. We're sorry. I've had no sleep for two days."

Get Safe Online was joint-funded by the government and private companies. PayPal, Barclays, Microsoft, Ofcom, Natwest, Kaspersky Lab and Norton are all listed on the website as partners in addition to a number of other companies involved in the anti-fraud and security space.

The site provides information about how to protect computers, smartphones and tablets against malware and other security threats.

When the Get Safe Online website crashed, much of the information about GOZeus and CryptoLocker was later copied and posted on the UK's newly established Cyber Emergency Readiness Team (Cert) website.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.