The latest incarnation of the hate-filled online forum 8chan was temporarily kicked off the internet on Sunday, after a company protecting the site from DDoS attacks cut its services.
The site, which is now called 8kun but was formerly known as 8chan, was back online on Monday morning, security researcher Brian Krebs reported, with a Russian company freshly enlisted to provide the protection services.
8chan/8kun is a far-right message board and notorious bastion of hate speech. It’s the birthplace of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which originated from anonymous posts made there by a user named ‘Q’ who baselessly claimed the existence of a secret cabal of pedophiles running a global child sex-trafficking ring.
The site had been bouncing around to various service providers since internet infrastructure company Cloudflare booted it off its platform in 2019, amid reports the forum was used by the suspects in several mass shootings to post white nationalist manifestos ahead of the attacks.
The latest 8chan version was being kept online by one internet provider, Washington state-based VanwaTech. The connection between the forum and VanwaTech was first reported on Twitter by Fredrick Brennan, an American software developer who helped create 8chan but has since cut ties with it over its hate and violence and spends time tracking down sites that enable it. .
Unlike other providers, VanwaTech refused to sever its ties with 8chan/8kun, citing the protection of free speech, according to Krebs’ report.
But VamwaTech was working with Oregon-based CNServers LLC to protect 8 chan/8kun from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, and CNServers did bow to the pressure.
Over the weekend, CNServers cut ties with VanwaTech and the 254 websites it protected for the company upon learning about the 8chan ties. A large number of the other sites dedicated to QAnon were also affected by the outage.
On Monday, it appeared that VanwaTech had found another protection service to replace CNServers, the Russia-based ddos-guard.net. 8kun now shares a server with militant group Hamas and others who have been pushed off mainstream hosting sites.
The situation underscores the complex infrastructure that keeps sites such as 8chan/8kun online. CNServers does not directly work for VanwaTech but for Spartan Host, which routes internet addresses on behalf of VanwaTech. While Spartan Host and VanwaTech refused to stop hosting 8chan, CNServers was able to cut ties for all of them.
The founder of Spartan Host has repeatedly defended his decision to keep 8chan and affiliated sites online.
“We follow the ‘law of the land’ when deciding what we allow to be hosted with us, with some exceptions to things that may cause resource issues etc.,” said Ryan McCully, Spartan Host’s founder, to Krebs. “Just because we host something, it doesn’t say anything about [what] we do and don’t support; our opinions don’t come into hosted content decisions.”
CNServers and VanwaTech did not respond to request for comment.