Wikipedia had fallen victim to a cyberattack today, with the foundation behind the free online encyclopedia calling it a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
The volunteer-run website was unavailable in multiple countries. Most affected appeared to be those in Europe — including Poland, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom — and the Middle East.
The Wikimedia Foundation’s German Twitter account was one of the first to share the news before retweeting the English-language statement.
The outages took place just before 7 pm BST, according to real-time website outage tracker Downdetector. However, Wikipedia’s status on the website is currently back to “No problems at Wikipedia” and today’s issues have apparently been resolved.
The Wikimedia Foundation responded to the outage and explained that the website is an attractive target for wrongdoers because of its popularity. It wrote in an official statement:
“As one of the world’s most popular sites, Wikipedia sometimes attracts “bad faith” actors. Along with the rest of the web, we operate in an increasingly sophisticated and complex environment where threats are continuously evolving. Because of this, the Wikimedia communities and Wikimedia Foundation have created dedicated systems and staff to regularly monitor and address risks. If a problem occurs, we learn, we improve, and we prepare to be better for next time.”
This particular act of “bad faith” was a DDoS attack, which successfully attempted to take down the website by overloading it with a torrent of fake traffic. These attacks prevent regular internet users from gaining access to the victimized website.
The Wikimedia Foundation also unsurprisingly condemned DDoS attacks, claiming that:
“Takedown attacks threaten everyone’s fundamental rights to freely access and share information. We in the Wikimedia movement and Foundation are committed to protecting these rights for everyone.”