Online survey software tool, SurveyGizmo, is nearly back to normality after days of issues and outage following a serious cyber attack.

The US online survey software tool, which has more than 300,000 customers across the globe, was the victim of a malicious Denial of Service (DOS) attack which started on Wednesday.

The incident prevented users from accessing online forms and surveys – many of which are used, and heavily relied on, by businesses for marketing, lead generation and research projects. It is also a popular tool for students.

While access to surveys has now resumed, the company said intermittent ups and downs with the API can still be expected, and planned email fixes are also set to take place today.

SurveyGizmo Battles Cyber Attack & Blackmail

Increasingly common attack

The company’s CEO, Christian Vanek, who admits he even spent a night sleeping in the office during his quest to get the site back up and running, described it as an increasingly common attack against online services used to blackmail business owners into paying for the attack to stop.

The DOS attack began on Wednesday, at SurveyGizmo’s primary data center in Denver, Colorado. At first the attack was intermittent, but then it took its services completely offline.

The company then received an email demanding money to stop the attack on its service.

It might sound like a movie script, but SurveryGizmo experienced just how real cyber terrorism is this week with the site held to ransom by hackers.

It might sound like a movie script, but SurveryGizmo experienced just how real cyber terrorism is this week with the site held to ransom by hackers.

“I hope everyone understands why we would never consider paying or even replying to such a demand,” Vanek said.

“People like this should never be rewarded. Besides which, he wouldn’t have stopped and it would have created further incentive for him to attack others.”

Just when SurveyGizmo thought it was making progress on combating the attack, it then announced the attackers had redoubled their efforts

Complaints & support

Users were quick to hop online and complain about issues such as log-in problems and error messages.

User Marc Jansen tweeted: “I’m still dead in the water. can’t access a single survey from Europe. You are not 100% up if 100% of your customers aren’t up.”

Cody DeHaan also tweeted: “Anyone know of a good @surveygizmo alternative? Would like to explore my options after this mess.”

Despite some moans, most users appeared very supportive of SurveyGizmo and appreciated its regular updates.

Attacker watches on

Vanek confessed he regretted not scheduling the downtime to set up CloudFlare, which protects websites from a wide range of online threats, two weeks ago, when a neighboring service was attacked.

He also admitted it was difficult to restore service during the attack itself, but after working with its service provider Viawest, it was able to complete the transition.

SurveyGizmo kept users up-to-date via Twitter, but had to avoid saying too much as the company believed the ‘attacker’ was reading its posts.

Cyber Terrorists Hold SurveyGizmo to Ransom

The company said it was down for just over 27 hours in total, but Friday marks the third day of maintenance and work to restore the site to total normality.

[Image via moviemansguide]