Amazon outage down to hardware failure, not DDoS

Amazon’s European websites were down for a short period yesterday, in what the company says was a hardware failure in its European data center.

The short outage – it only lasted half an hour – atrtacted more attention than it otherwise might, given the company’s well-publicized falling-out with Wikileaks. It affected the company’s British, French, Austrian, German and Spanish sites, leaving Europeans unable to buy the quantities of random tat that are so traditional at this time of year.

Initial reports suggested that the Anonymous hacking attack was responsible for the outage as part of its Operation Payback mission to bring down sites perceived as unsupportive of Wikileaks. But the company has denied this, saying the failure was not the result of a DDoS attack.

This explanation is borne out by the company’s service health dashboard. The affected sites are all hosted at the company’s data center in Ireland, which reported elevated error rates and latencies yesterday.

Amazon was last week the target of the Anonymous 4Chan group, which announced that it planned to bring the site down after it terminated a cloud-based server account hosting the Wikileaks website.

But the initial attempt failed, and on Friday Anonymous announced that instead of making another attempt as originally planned, it would instead spend the weekend continuing its attacks on Mastercard.