A popular online brokerage and a news site became the latest victims of computer hackers, who have been crippling Web sites by flooding them with thousands of phony e-mail messages.
E*Trade said its Web site was under attack, although the scope of the problem wasn't immediately clear. Spokeswoman Heather Fondo said "hackers did get into E*Trade," but it wasn't known whether any customer information was compromised.
And ZDNet.Com, a popular technology news operations, said its Web site was shut down for two hours early Wednesday and also "appeared to have been the target of a denial-of-service attack."
Another online broker, Datek Online Holdings Corp.,
previously said it suspected that it had been a target for
hackers after its site's suffered similar problems for 35
minutes. But it later retracted those comments.
"It looks like it was a coincidence," a spokesman told
Reuters, explaining how the problem occurred at one of the
routers operated by another company. "They're looking into
Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., the No. 1 U.S. online
broker, TD Waterhouse Group Inc., and Ameritrade
Holding Corp. said they had not experienced any trouble
at their sites.
It was the third consecutive day that computer hackers attacked
some of the Internet's most popular sites including Yahoo!, Amazon.com, CNN.com and Buy.com Inc. all in unusually forceful assaults.
FBI Gets Involved
The FBI, which is investigating, announced a news conference
today to discuss the attacks.
Meanwhile, President Clinton said he didn't know if there was anything
Washington could do. "But I have asked people who know more about
it than I do whether there is anything we can do about it," the
president said Wednesday as he left the White House for a trip to
Internet Seems Vulnerable
The attacks were a dramatic demonstration of the Internet's vulnerabilities and the ease with which determined hackers can wreak havoc across the global computer network.
eBay Inc., the online auction site with more than 10 million
customers, said engineers were able to restore full service just
before midnight EST. The company offered to credit any customer
whose auctions were affected by the sabotage.
Amazon.Com Inc. said its site was inaccessible for more than an
hour late Tuesday because large amounts of "junk traffic" were
aimed at the company's computers, tying them up and preventing
nearly all its customers from making purchases.
All the companies hit Monday and Tuesday said hackers did not
gain access inside their computers or retrieve information about
CNN said its Web site was "seriously affected." It fell under
attack for nearly two hours before technicians were able to shield
its computers from the hackers late Tuesday night.
Tuesday's attack against Buy.Com, which claims more than 1.3 million customers, apparently was timed to coincide with the
company's initial stock offering. Chief executive Greg Hawkins
described the sabotage in a statement as "an outside coordinated
attack to our network that prevented access to our system."
"The whole thing happened so quickly," said Mitch Hill, the company's chief financial officer. He said the attacks were traced
to powerful computers in Boston, New York and Chicago, and that
Buy.Com planned to contact the FBI today.
Yahoo! First on Attack List
These moves followed a brazen electronic attack Monday that for hours crippled Yahoo!, among the most popular sites on the
Internet, though it was impossible to know immediately whether they
"It's still in the early stages, but we're working to see if there are any common denominators,'' eBay spokeswoman Kristin
Among the Internet underground, where craving for publicity
often fuels dramatic attacks against high-profile computers, no one
claimed responsibility for the moves against eBay, Amazon, Yahoo!
"This is unfortunately one of the outcroppings of being a
leading communications medium company," Yahoo! President Jeff Mallett said. "Bad people
do bad things. It's going to continue to happen, (but) the
penalties are pretty severe."
Mallett and technical experts believe that about 50 powerful
computers were hacked across the United States - a fairly trivial
task - and instructed simultaneously to send falsified data to
"routers" on the Internet that, in turn, were fooled into
flooding the Yahoo! Web site with electronic signals.
Mallett estimated that during the attack's peak, Yahoo! was
drowning in one gigabit of incoming data every second.
"Most sites don't get that in a year," spokeswoman Diane Hunt
said. "That's an incredible amount."
Hunt said that while recovering from the overload, Yahoo!
accidentally introduced a bug into its Web-based e-mail system that
caused some messages to get garbled. She said the information
wasn't lost and the company was working to restore the messages.
Buy.Com's chief executive estimated his site Tuesday was hit
with 800 megabits every second, or eight times his site's capacity.
He called the crush of data traffic aimed at his company
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report