Web Hosting Canada Experiences Major Outage

Published · Sep 03, 2021

On Saturday, August 28, Web Hosting Canada (WHC) suffered a major outage that saw 13 of its servers affected. The company has done much to fix the damage but warned that the entire process will likely take weeks to complete.

The severity of the incident became apparent when client websites on 11 of Web Hosting Canada’s servers went offline. Of those, five experienced huge data losses. WHC only brought two of the servers back online by Monday, August 30.

Details on the cause of the incident were scarce at first, but eventually the company CEO Emil Falcon explained what happened in a blog post.

It turns out a user from a third-party provider accessed a data center management portal through their privileged account. The user then initiated reimaging on some of the company’s backup servers without authorization.

Within hours of the unauthorized action, WHC managed to lock out the offender and secure its systems. Unfortunately, the damage was already done—a lot of data is unrecoverable. WHC enlisted the help of data recovery specialists. However, these specialists say that it is unlikely that they'll be able to recover data from the worst affected systems.

In the meantime, WHC has provisioned what it calls “Lifeboat accounts.” Free hosting profiles for affected users that will remain free until at least January 1, 2022.

Web Hosting Canada is a major provider that supplies cloud, dedicated, Weebly, and managed WordPress hosting. Luckily, it’s been reported that the accounts for these services were largely unaffected.

WHC has now restored most of what was possible. Only three servers remain affected. The company’s efforts going forward will focus on these. WHC will continue updating the incident report page with live information.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.