EFNet, one of the largest and oldest Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks, is being well and truly hammered by malicious hackers who have the potential to damage the service beyond recovery.
Since the start of the week, the EFNet network has been under a rather painful 3Gbps distributed denial of service (DoS) attack, forcing the disconnection of six servers in two days, one of which won't be coming back.
The reasons for the attack are unknown, but are thought to be some sort of IRC related vendetta.
EFNet was set up in 1990 as a not-for-profit chat service which is staffed by volunteers and run on volunteered servers and bandwidth. But as DoS attacks affect the service providers, many will choose to withdraw their resources if their bandwidth suffers - as has been the case here, with six providers, including Cable & Wireless, withdrawing service.
The attacks have caused much consternation in the IRC camp, as users are finding it impossible to log on to the services.
A message from the EFNet administrators reads: "To those concerned, quit with the attacks, learn not to shit where you sleep. You know who you are."
But this isn't the first attack of its kind. Over the last few years, EFNet has been whittled down to just over 30 servers, as more providers drop out because of bandwidth consuming attacks.
January was the last time the service was knocked for six by a DoS attack, and the latest has left users "wondering if the oldest IRC network can pull out of this type of situation a second time".
To add insult to injury, one sarcastic user posted EFNet up for sale on eBay. At the auction's close the highest bid was $2.
The advert read: "For sale: Network (slightly outdated) with several opless channels. Opers are included. Also, for a limited time, you will recieve [sic] a free 3gb/sec dos attack! Hurry, while supplies (i mean servers) last."
But if malicious vandals keep up with attacks like this, the fake eBay posting may one day become a reality.