"External, Malicious Attack?" I doubt it

I tried to buy World Series tickets online yesterday, but instead ran into 90 minutes of “Connection Failed” and “Server Too Busy” errors. Looks like I wasn’t alone in my frustration.


I find it interesting that the Rockies are blaming an "external, malicious attack," but refuse to provide details. As best as I can tell, they just weren’t expecting 8.5 million hits in the first 90 minutes and so assume they were the target of some sort of denial of service attack. But if we do the math, 8.5 million hits is perfectly reasonable. I was attempting connections about once per minute on at least five different browsers. Over 90 minutes that leads to 450 hits from me alone. 8.5 million divided by 450 equals 18,889 (rounding up). That means it would have taken less than twenty thousand people doing what I did to generate that much traffic. Given that Coors Field seats around fifty thousand people for each game, that doesn’t sound at all unreasonable. Furthermore, if you add in the opportunists who are trying to buy tickets only to turn around and sell them on ebay for a huge profit, I don’t think these kinds of numbers should be at all unexpected. So it looks to me like they just didn’t do their math before opening up the ticket sales, and are now trying to blame an attack instead of admitting they weren’t prepared. This speculation on my part could, of course, be completely wrong. Perhaps there really was an attack. But I doubt it.

They’re opening up sales again at noon today. Let’s hope they’ve actually added more bandwidth, or we’ll see a repeat of yesterday’s fiasco. I also hope they aren’t going to accidentally lock out legitimate customers in their attempts to prevent against DOS attacks.

Comments:

I tried for tickets too...this is the lamest excuse ever. DOS attacks occur every day to every server of any importance...I can't imagine this was any different. It sounds like a) bad web architecture b) overly aggressive sales people c) bad expectations

Personally, I think the Rockies club is just forwarding on information from the ticket sales folks, so I doubt they are the ones to blame for this rather shady excuse...

I think the saddest part of this mess is that it really opened my eyes to the drawbacks of online sales. What a mess that someone in Europe or somewhere else can look to this as an opportunity to make up to 500% in the matter of a few minutes...since when did scalping become a profession? If you are going to make that kind of profit you should have to stand in Denver outside...and make it on a day like Sunday with the snow.

:-)

Posted by Paul Monday on October 23, 2007 at 04:19 AM MDT #

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Nick Solter is a software engineer and author living in Colorado.

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