Posted on September 10, 2019 at 4:22 AM
The “free encyclopedia” that usually provides community-driven articles about nearly all things known by the human being, Wikipedia, suffered a DDoS attack on crowdsourced knowledge on Friday night.
The characteristics of the attack were suspicious, as it seemed as someone was trying to get back in vindication against the encyclopedia because it was taken down at about 7 pm BST, which is the peak time for pissed-up pub discussions that can only be settled by conducting a Google search.
Users from several European countries and some locations in the Middle East couldn’t access the page starting Friday night. However, access was restored by early Saturday. An official spokesperson from Wikipedia blamed bad actors for perpetrating a malicious attack in a blog post in which the site explained what happened.
A Top 10 Site
Wikipedia is one of the most famous sites in the world, ranked in the top 10 by Alexa and known for providing free access to millions of articles about numerous subjects, in the model of an online encyclopedia that is available in several languages in the vast majority of countries around the planet.
To be more specific, the attack affected users in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy. Downdetector, a known outage monitoring service reported that Wikipedia was offline for several hours before restored over the weekend.
Another watchdog association on the Internet, Netblocks, took notice of the DDoS attacks and reported it. Via its Twitter account, the group stated that the offense could have been amplified by using unsecured IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
The post explains that Wikipedia, being one of the biggest and most prominent websites on the whole planet, sometimes has to deal with bad faith actors that try to damage the page’s reputation. The publication further analyzes that Wikipedia operates in an increasingly sophisticated ecosystem in which threats and risks are constantly evolving.
Monitoring and Risk Addressing
The Wikimedia post also detailed that as a result of the continuous threats, the Wikimedia communities and Wikimedia Foundation have come up with delicate systems and well-prepared staff to exercise monitoring and risk addressing. In the event that an issue presents itself, the page stated that it learns, improves, and takes notes for future occasions.
The post wasn’t very detailed or extensive, although the Twitter account of the German Wikipedia version did explain that the page was affected by a massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, at least according to the Google Translate resource.
If there was ever any doubts, Wikipedia doesn’t like it when its page is taken down. Along that line of thought, the post helped the site express that it condemns attacks like that and that they, more than affecting just Wikipedia, have a consequence on millions of people’s rights to access free information.
Who did it?
As of the moment of writing this article, it isn’t clear who perpetrated the attack. However, at least one person has claimed responsibility for it: a Twitter user who goes by the name “Ukdrillas,” per a report from Israeli publication Haaretz.com.
The user himself detailed an alleged timeline of his attacks on his account, and in a recent tweet, he observed that he was just testing some new IoT devices. That account was blocked on Saturday night, per Hareetz.com.
Imperva’s senior vice president and CTO Terry Ray told site Information Security Media Group that the motives for these attacks could vary, and because of that, those in charge of security need to ask themselves what the cost for avoiding an attack is when compared to the potential long-term damage of the company’s reputation if such an event isn’t solved quickly.
He also said that DDoS attacks aren’t always perceived as cybersecurity issues, and that is why they are mostly successful. The cost of the media attention and business stoppage is what needs to be considered, and he concluded that Wikimedia likely determined that the cost of protection was higher than the cost of DDoS business impact.
For what is worth, the site is already up and running after the distasteful episode occurred. When you encounter a petition to donate a few bucks to Wikipedia, remember that it has to endure things like that and you may deem it worthy of your money.