Police.uk's EC2-hosted crime site toppled

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Police.uk's EC2-hosted crime site toppled

By popular demand.

An online crime map site launched by UK Police has crashed within hours of launch after receiving up to five million page requests in an hour, the UK's Home Office told BBC News.

The crime search engine and mapping system offered UK citizens an overview of local crime data such as burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour.

However, on Tuesday anyone who attempted to type their post code or town into Police.uk's crime search engine was faced with a 503 Service Unavailable message. .

The system was hoped to usher in a new era of transparency and, according to officials, make police more responsive.

"We want people to be able to see what crime is happening on their street and to be able to tell their local police if they have concerns, and challenge them about how issues are being dealt with," said Home Secretary Theresa May.

Rock Kitchen Harris (RKH), the company that built the site, said it was hosted "using a mix of servers, with the public website using scalable cloud hosting".

UK security firm Netcraft confirmed the site was being hosted on the same Amazon infrastructure which offered WikiLeaks resilience during sustained DDoS attacks and huge public interest that followed the Cablegate release.

However the company's security analyst Paul Mutton questioned whether RKH had activated the Auto Scaling feature Amazon offers.

"Despite the use of scaleable cloud hosting (in this case, Amazon EC2), the site does not appear to be holding out too well," wrote Paul Mutton on security firm Netcraft's blog.

"Amazon's EC2 hosting service does provide a facility called Auto Scaling, which deals with traffic spikes by automatically increasing capacity, but it is not clear whether RKH have enabled this feature," wrote Mutton.

"WikiLeaks notably used Amazon EC2 when the Iraq War Logs and Cablegate sites went live, both of which coped well with the initial large volume of traffic."
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