I got this e-mail from my merchant account provider (yes I am an authorized merchant and can accept MasterCard/Visa/AMEX/Discover):
Please be aware that our servers continue to be hit with a continuous distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. We have very qualified technicians watching the incoming attack and combating them.
Until the attack ceases there will be some brief outages and some delays in transaction processing. We understand that these issues greatly impact your business, and we will continue to put our resources into fighting the attack and keeping all services functioning.
We again thank those who have contacted us sharing your support, ideas, concern, and/or experiences with your own DDoS attacks. We greatly appreciate your support and confidence.
Again, we appreciate your understanding during this time.
We have included a link (below) to an article at ComputerWeekly.com indicating that the most recent DDoS attacks on the Internet are being targeted against e-commerce companies.
First of all it's cool that my merchant provider does in fact care about its customers like myself - and even when the going gets rough they do notify everyone when stuff is going awry.
I read the article linked above. Interesting read, but at the same time scary. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are a very real threat to any business that accepts any type of payment that is electronic. This includes online transactions, in-store credit card transactions and EFT's (Electronic File Transfers) a.k.a. Electronic Checks.
I actually knew someone once who got hit with a DoS (Denial of Service) attack for his online business. All he could basically do is sit there and watch it happen; his web server was hit hard. Customers were calling and complaining that his site and services were down and the phones were ringing off the hook. Very real and intimidating experience.
Now I can understand if someone gets hacked for security reasons, as in to "teach them a lesson" so to speak. Many colleges are like this and have extremely poor security measures in place. However, in the article linked above, it's outright extortion - that's wrong. It's basically large-scale blackmail and it's not just done by some kids who want to have some fun. These are real-scale pro criminals who are out to get the cash by any means necessary.
I hand it to anyone who runs an online business, because your balls are in the wind every second your site is online.
Some of you have probably noticed that if you bookmark a site in Internet Exploder Explorer there is a small custom icon image for that site. In other browsers like Firefox, the icon shows up all the time (something that IE really should do but doesn't for some reason).
To create your own custom icon - this is how it's done:
First of all, that icon is called favicon.ico and it is saved in the root directory of your web site (where the home page index.html or default.htm is).
To make a favicon.ico, there are commercial tools out there to do it, but who wants to pay for a stupid little icon?! Sheez! My suggestion is to use png2ico, a FREE utility that will convert a PNG to an ICO file that you can use.
To those who don't know, a PNG is a high-color graphic, like a JPG. It's just a different format. Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro (my preference) will do PNG graphics. For those who don't have those and don't have any money, get GIMP for Windows. It also does PNG graphics.
At this point, download png2ico mentioned above and extract it somewhere. Then, get any graphic and size it down to 32x32. Save it as PNG to where your png2ico directory is.
-- Begin severe noob instructions here --
(if you're not a noob to Windows, skip this part)
PNG2ICO is a command-line program. You will need to launch a command prompt in Windows in order to use it.
In Windows 98/98/ME, this is done by clicking Start then Run then typing command in the box that appears then click OK. A black box will come up. This is a command prompt.
In Windows NT/2000/XP, the same is done by clicking Start, then Run, then type cmd and click OK.
Assuming you have installed png2ico at c:\png2ico, you get to that directory by typing cd\png2ico at the prompt.
-- End severe noob instructions --
Launch a prompt. Go to where you installed png2ico which is also where you saved your 32x32 PNG file you want to use as your icon.
png2ico favicon.ico whatever_you_named_the_file.png
This will create your favicon.ico. Upload to the root of your web directory. Done deal. That's it.
The CS server was back up - momentarily. Then it went back down again. I don't know what the deal with it is. The guy who has the server replaced the CAT-5 cable and it seemed to work, but then it blew up again. I mean yeah, it's free so I can't complain about it, but, I just wish the server would stay up for a little while. Oh well, what ya gonna do.
Honestly speaking I couldn't care less if it's up or down. It's just a hobby thing which will go away permanently in the future anyway. Right now I'm at a point in my life where video games aren't really high up on my "to-do" list anymore. I think this server blowing up constantly is just a sign that maybe I should be concentrating on more important things - which I am. (grin)