Amazon.com's One-Hour 'Hiccup' Attack

SAN FRANCISCO (03/16/2000) - Amazon.com Inc., one of the busiest sites on the Web, crashed this afternoon and was inaccessible to most viewers for an hour.

The technical problem was internal and was not a denial-of-service attack, according to Amazon spokeswoman Patty Smith.

From 2:08 p.m. to 3:09 p.m. PST today, Amazon users were met with a message informing them that "our store is closed temporarily." The greeting included details of the site's policies on closures, and how ongoing auctions would be extended depending on the length of Amazon was down.

"We don't keep track of when the system has hiccups," says Smith, adding that she didn't know when the last crash had happened, or how often they occur.

Smith also said Amazon engineers didn't know what caused the crash, but were working to find out. While she acknowledged the company was concerned about such system failures and the loss of business that inevitably accompanies them, she also pointed out that a site the size of Amazon was bound to "hiccup" now and then.

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