Folks trying to access the BBC’s websites or catch up on the latest episode of EastEnders on the iPlayer platform this morning were met with error messages for several hours. That set #BBCdown trending on Twitter. All sites were unavailable Thursday beginning at 7AM local time, but were restored a few hours later. The BBC initially put the problem down to a “technical issue,” although BBC News has now reported the cause was a “large web attack” aka a “distributed denial of service” attack.
Around noon, the BBC said its site was operating normally and apologized for any inconvenience. The corporation has not officially confirmed, or denied, that such an attack was responsible. But its news organization says it is believed it was a DDoS attack, which aims to knock a site offline by swamping it with excessive traffic. The BBC sites are highlytrafficked in Britain, ranking just behind Google and Facebook.
A National Crime Agency spokesperson told The Telegraph that DDoS is “a blunt form of attack which takes volume and not skill. It’s a very basic attack tool. One analogy is too many people trying to get through a revolving door at the same time so that the door gets stuck.”
Sometime BBC host, Stephen Fry, tweeted the below about the clown-festooned error message before services were restored:
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) December 31, 2015