Update Regarding Service Issues

Feb 26 2013, 04:09 AM

This is an update for all users of our services on the current status of our situation in regard to all of the downtime as of late. We wanted to provide a brief synopsis, and then some news that will hopefully bring stability back.

What has been happening?

Since around mid-January, the service has suffered several severe Denial of Service, or DDoS attacks. In laymens terms, this simply means that users with malicious intent are using multiple machines around the world to hit us with illegitimate access to the network. This ends up blocking legitimate requests until the attack ends.

At the end of January, because the attacks did not stop and we could not deal with them at our own level since they were too strong despite all of our efforts. These attacks are very expensive to protect against and there are few providers out there with the resources to truly handle them. But we had to do something.

What was done about it, and why has there been downtime?

We eventually did what we knew we had to do seeing no end in sight to this, and signed up for a filtering provider, who we will not name and shame here. They were able to block most of the attacks that we were having, however, their own network and systems have glaring stability problems. This is what has lead to 99% of all of our downtime. Every time the server would go down it would usually be the result of a failure by the filtering provider. We'd then have to file tickets with them to get the problem fixed, or route around them until whatever was causing the problem ended.

We're not going to name them here, but it's caused us a lot of headaches. Having no other option at the time, and since we already spent a lot of money for them, we stayed with the service. In regard to downtime, their performance was sporadic no matter what was done. Days would go by and everything would be fine and "fixed", things appeared to be just fine. And then there would be bouts of downtime for no rhyme or reason.

What's happened recently?

Early in the morning a few days ago and during the day, downtime occurred and it was yet again because the filtering service was acting up. It was for hours. We could not even use it because their network was so severely messed up and had to route off of it for the day.

At this point we didn't see much of an option except to sever our relationship with this company. What's the point of using protection to keep the service online if it only keeps failing consistently? There isn't one. This past week has been the worst with them so we began scoping out other options.

What's happening now to solve the problem?

We made a move and purchased protection from:

user posted image

You can see more about them on their site.

It took us the last 48 hours to get it set up as it was done days ago - and we would have liked to be able to test this service out for longer, but we decided to roll it now because of all of the problems with the old provider. We're now using BlackLotus.net's protection services and they will hopefully fair us better. At this point having already been with 2 other providers, we're hopeful but will be cautiously watching everything with BlackLotus. We still have work to do in regard to the setup and will be tweaking and configuring it during the week provided it works well for us.

Why is any of this a problem at all?

Where have these attacks been coming from?

Why has this never been as big of a problem in the past 6 years of service

The proliferation of attack services that are cheap is sickening and is the root cause of all of this. We didn't really have this problem at all from 2006-2011, attacks were just an occasional problem and they never lasted very long. We could deal with them on our level. Now that they are cheap and easy to do, it's a major a headache since the beginning of 2012.

If the wrong user gets angry at a user's forum for whatever reason, and has the resources to do an attack, it becomes a problem. You don't need to be a computer genius to run high end multi-gigabit attacks anymore; and they can be done near totally anonymous and transparently. In the past we were able to deal with it; now it's much harder.

We're not just saying this, DDoS attacks are worse than they used to be. The reality is that as the service has grown over the years, so has the market for these types of tools. Cheap to perform, difficult and expensive to detect and block. There is no such thing as being bullet proof against DDoS unless you're a company like Google, Facebook, or Amazon, who have so much network capacity that it can't be overwhelmed.

I'm really concerned; is this the end of Jcink Forum Hosting?

I've heard plenty of rumors because of all of the downtime that this is it and that we're closing down soon. Because some free forum services have had a tendency to just up and disappear overnight with no notice to users.

The answer is NO. Years of time and effort have been put into development of the service and we continue to do so. There were plans to roll out Premium level service that we had to very sadly postpone as well as a resource board in the works. Things are being actively developed - although some projects have been slowed down because of time that has needed to be reallocated into dealing with attack issues.

The answer to the question is, once again, no. We're not going to give up on this service and while the attacks are a problem, it's not going to be the death of us. We have funds, the trouble has just been finding a proper provider. I realize that some users have already left because they're fed up with the downtime. Regardless, we're just going to keep on trying until we get a solution that works. Hopefully, Black Lotus will deliver what we need.

We really appreciate those who have stuck with Jcink Foum Hosting throughout this entire debacle, those who have supported us on forums/twitter/facebook, and we hope you'll stick with us in the near future. If you've already left, keep an eye on us - perhaps you'll return when things are stable, because we're not going away.

Please bear with us while we work with BlackLotus as there's always a few bumps in the road to deal with when it comes to technology like this.

Thank you for your continued patience and support,

Jcink