No website, however unlikely, is beyond the reach of the dreaded distributed-denial-of-service attack (DDoS), with cloud security outfit Prolexic publicising a pre-Christmas attack on a web perfume seller.

The company under attack was the Philadelphia-based online perfume retail business,, which experienced a three-day attack in the run up to the busy Christmas period which its engineers were unable to counter. The attack was only stopped after calling on the services of Prolexic.

The precise technical details of how the attack was conducted have not been made public, but it began with a large surge in spam email, which on its own would have overloaded the company's bandwidth and email system.

"Business stopped completely which over several days cost us dearly," said ValentinePerfume's Jeet Rajwani in a release put out by Prolexic. "A network attack at any time of the year is extremely difficult for a business to deal with. For us in December, with the run up to Christmas, it could have been crippling. The longer we were offline, the more customers we were losing."

The company estimates that the three days of the attack lost if 11 percent of its expected revenue for November and December.

It's not clear why the business was singled out but it is unlikely to be the only online retailer experiencing such problems. DDoS plagues the industry but attacks are usually repelled and are certainly not publicised for fear of attracting copycats. Documented cases in the SME part of the private sector are rare. In this case, other perfume businesses were believed to have been targeted.

Amazon revealed that it experienced a DDoS on Christmas Eve, which is a more representative example of the sort of attacks that do get noticed. Many large companies now treat DDoS as just another daily hazard of doing business online.

"It is difficult to track the source of these attacks, but given the timing and nature of the attack to Valentine Perfume, we suspect the motivations behind it may have been related to competition," said Prolexic's CEO, Gus Cunningham, darkly.

All great advertising for Prolexic's services, of course, and proof if proof is needed that people love buying perfume at Christmas.