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Hacker attacks Meetup.com and holds it for ransom for $300

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The popular social networking site Meetup.com is under attack from hackers. The site has been hit by a sophisticated denial of service attack PC World reported today.

Meetup.com is used by millions of people worldwide to organize get-togethers and meetings for various hobbies and interests. The New York-based website has been under attack by hackers since last week. According to Meetup staff, a hacker sent them an email requesting $300 to stop the attacks.

"Meetup is currently under DDoS attack. Our services may be up/down intermittently as we seek to restore full functionality." Meetup staff said via Twitter.

Meetup has been down for days since February 28 and organizers and members have no way to communicate with one another. The staff has been working around the clock to thwart off the hackers and restore the site.

"We hate to say it, but Meetup is down again as of 8:09 pm EST. We continue to be hit by a distributed denial of service attack. Organizer and member data is secure, including credit card information. No data has been accessed or stolen," Meetup's Co-Founder and CEO Scott Heiferman said today on the site's blog.

According to Heiferman, he received an email last Thursday at 10:26 am from a hacker requesting money. Simultaneously the attack began and the site's servers were overwhelmed with internet traffic. As a result the servers went down.

"A competitor asked me to perform a DDoS attack on your website. I can stop the attack for $300 USD. Let me know if you are interested in my offer," the hacker said in the email.

Heiferman says that Meetup will not back down and pay the demands regardless of how little the cost is. He insists that the site will be back up soon and fully functional.

"The natural question I know many of you will ask is why didn't we pay, especially since the amount of money demanded was ridiculously small ($300 USD).We made a decision not to negotiate with criminals. The extortion dollar amount suggests this to be the work of amateurs, but the attack is sophisticated. We believe this lowball amount is a trick to see if we are the kind of target who would pay. We believe if we pay, the criminals would simply demand much more.Payment could make us (and all well-meaning organizations like us) a target for further extortion demands as word spread in the criminal world. We were confident we can protect Meetup from this aggressive attack, even if it will take time. Please know that while we will not pay the criminals, you can count on Meetup to be stable and reliable soon. We’ll continue to work diligently to restore the site and the apps, to bring back all features, and to minimize the effects of the service outages," Heiferman said in a public response to the hackers.

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