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Internet Attack Strikes Major Web Sites

An early morning Internet attack on Tuesday took down the Web sites of Microsoft, Google, Apple Computer and Yahoo, a tracking company said.

The sites went down at 5:30 a.m. Pacific time and did not all return too normal until about 7:45 a.m. Pacific, Keynote Systems Inc. said. The outage dropped Keynote's availability rating for the Internet, which is based on the performance of 40 large companies, to 81 percent. The figure rarely goes below 99 percent.

It was not clear whether the Internet attack occurred against the individual web sites, or web infrastructure company Akamai, which is responsible for directing traffic to the sites. "It's hard to tell at this point," Roopak Patel, senior Internet analyst for Keynote, said. "We don't have conclusive information that points to one or the other."

The outage had the characteristics of a denial of service attack, in that the companies' web site went down suddenly and the recovery phase took a bit of time, Patel said. Most hardware or software problems typically lead to a more gradual degradation in service.

During the recovery, two of the companies brought their web operations in-house, one switched to another infrastructure company and the fourth stayed with Akamai, Patel said, declining to say which company took which action.

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