Meetup? MeetDOWN.

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Pay up $300 or deal with the biggest attack to your company’s servers since it was founded. That was the question that Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman had to answer last week. And while we agree, that negotiating with criminals is probably not a good idea, it’s safe to say that Meetup paid the price. And a price quite a bit more significant than the measly $300 request.

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Meetup, both its website and mobile apps, were completely down for the better portion of 5 days- a tech eternity- after experiencing a distributed denial-of-service attack on its servers. From the sound of it, an intense and well calculated one, especially relative to the culprits ransom demands. Meetup was first down for almost 24 hours and could only recover momentarily before the next round of sophisticated hacking.

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http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/exposure/content/photo/photo/2073317_cyber-attack_7hqdjmj4am3d2cszxsyeykq4xpncurxrbvj6lwuht2ya6mzmafma_610x457.jpg

But what really stood out about this unusual example of cyber crime is the effect it had on all other Meetup event hosts. Let’s start by saying there was no way that this was going to be a good experience for Meetup users, whether they were better prepared or not. But it did expose what turned out to be a significant shortcoming of the social networking site. Part of their strict privacy policy, that remained inflexible during these extenuating circumstances, states that Meetup will not provide the email addresses of guests to event hosts. Normally this is just an inconvenience and a way for Meetup to force you to use their internal communication system while retaining sole ownership of the data. But because they were unwilling to accommodate their users in a time of need, their hosts had no way of reaching guests to inform them of the situation, let alone about their specific event. It was a disastrous decision that sent hosts scrambling to look up phone numbers in true #TBT fashion.

We’re told pagers were in use but can only assume that those rumors were a part of a series of jokes that circulated around the disappointed community.

Were you affected by the Meetup outage? Tell us your story so we can learn from past mistakes and be better prepared in the future.

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