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Aussie web host sells up after devastating hack

Industry rallies following crippling online strike

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Distressed domain hosting outfit Distribute.IT and its offshoot Click n Go have been acquired by larger competitor the Netregistry Group after a systematic hack attack brought down the company's operations.

Neither party have disclosed the sale price or customer numbers but it is clear Distribute.IT's priority was to ensure continuity of service after the hack crippled its network last week.

All of Distribute.IT's customer base will be given the option of moving their services to the Netregistry Group.

Netregistry Group CEO Larry Bloch said:

We all have a great deal of sympathy and concern for the consequences to Distribute.IT staff, management and customers of this unfortunate incident. It is important to us that all Distribute.IT customers know the extent of effort to which Distribute IT have gone to rectify the damage. Distribute.IT had a very solid reputation – that comes from doing a good job for a long time. I want to remind customers of that excellence and ask for their patience and support as we work through the requirements to return services to all customers as rapidly as possible.

Bloch told customers that NetRegistry would honour all payments for hosting at Distribute.IT, but said that while it was assessing billing and payment history, it would give all Distribute.IT customers a free hosting service "as soon as humanly possible" so that they could upload their site and get their email addresses working.

The transaction is supported by domain administration agency auDA, which has been working closely with Distribute.IT management and NetRegistry through the saga.

The sale was quickly negotiated on Thursday morning. Up until late Wednesday night the Distribute.IT team was working with supporting companies such as data centre Micron21 to assist in migrating co-location clients to their facilities.

In an email to customers on Tuesday Distribute.IT support said:

All attempts to manage and stabilize the network and the storage have resulted in our security and network teams identifying further vulnerabilities in the configuration. This has resulted in the various lockouts of ports and loss of accessibility that you have experienced recently. In this climate of uncertainty, we would strongly recommend that you make preparations to migrate and transfer your requirements to another hosting/co-location provider.

Distribute.IT recommended to clients that they move to Micron21 for continuity or resumption of services for co-location, website and email hosting.

Micron21 James Braunegg said that Distribute.IT had worked "tirelessly" for its customers. "They have done the industry proud in coming back from a crisis and we are excited to be part of the recovery effort," he said.

Braunegg also said that Micron21 may hire some of Distribute.IT's staff, as it is currently recruiting.

auDA confirmed that Distribute.IT had advised the organisation that its hosting services, and not its domain name services, were the target of the attack.

"Distribute.IT has also advised auDA that it does not store any credit card data in its databases or logs, and so there has been no compromise to customers' financial data. auDA can also confirm that .au registry data has not been compromised as a result of the security attacks on Distribute IT," it said. ®

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