The new English-language Web site of controversial Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera was knocked off-line Tuesday by what may have been a denial-of-service attack.
The site was just launched Monday and was put together rather quickly in order to deliver news on the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. However, the site became overloaded very soon after its launch and by Tuesday afternoon, both the English and Arabic sites were completely unavailable.
The channel has come under heavy criticism in recent days from U.S. government and military leaders for showing video of executed American soldiers and prisoners of war. Theres no telling whether the attack was linked to the airing of the footage, which was available only on the Arabic site. The English site only had still photos of the soldiers.
U.S. officials have said that the pictures of the dead American soldiers and interviews of the POWs by Iraqi television constitute war crimes.
There could be several possible explanations for the sites problems, including a DoS attack and a simple overload of the servers by legitimate traffic, experts said.
"At this point were not able to triangulate to a particular reason, but you could postulate several reasons," said Roopak Patel, senior Internet data analyst at Keynote Systems Inc., an Internet performance management and testing company based in San Mateo, Calif. "It could just be an overall traffic increase that adds to the load or it could be an increase in the rate at which users are coming to the site. Or it could be some external event like a denial-of-service or a virus thats propagating."
Contacts at Al-Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Patel said that both Al-Jazeera sites have been essentially unavailable since about 3:30 p.m. EST Tuesday.
"They put this site together in a hurry, and thats part of the lesson here. You have to do at least some basic load testing," Patel said.
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