According to ethical hacking specialists, over the past weekend multiple Wikipedia sites for some regions of Europe and the Middle East experienced failures due to a denial of service (DDoS) attack; the organization claims that the incident is already being investigated through the Wikimedia Foundation, which is responsible for overseeing various aspects of the online encyclopedia.
“This Monday, access to all sites affected by the DDoS attack was restored; we will continue to work on monitoring our infrastructure and investigate the causes of the incident,” says a statement from the foundation.
Wikipedia is one of the 10 most popular websites in the world, so it is estimated that millions of users experienced the consequences of the DDoS attack. Ethical hacking experts believe the attack began last Friday, affecting Wikipedia sites in countries such as France, Germany, Italy and some sectors of the Middle East, mainly Israel.
“Due to its popularity, Wikipedia is an attractive target for malicious users. The Wikimedia Foundation team condemns such attacks, as they are not only a threat against this organization, but they violate the universal right to free access to information,” the foundation’s statement adds.
Wikipedia security teams were alerted in a timely manner on service failures; in addition, platforms such as downdetector.com and Netblocks Internet access monitoring group helped conclude that these failures were due to DDoS attacks, which were amplified by the use of unsecured devices.
Although the foundation did not report on the origin of the attacks, through the Twitter account @UkDrillas, a suspected group of hackers claimed responsibility for the attacks, even posting some screenshots as evidence of their claims.
Whoever is behind this Twitter account was also held responsible for DDoS attacks that caused multiple failures in the online game World of Warcraft this weekend. The account was suspended on Sunday, September 8.
Terry Ray, an ethical hacking specialist at security firm Imperva, mentions that the hackers’ motivations to launch such attacks may vary depending on the target. In addition, the expert believes that companies should consider these attacks as a possibility and implement a protocol to address such incidents. “Recovery costs could be higher than prevention costs,” he added.
Despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies to curb this activity, ethical hacking specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) ensure that it is still very easy to find someone willing to deploy an attack DDoS against an individual or organization in exchange for the correct sum. Earlier this year, a British citizen was sentenced to prison following a DDoS attack in Liberia, Africa. The defendant claimed that an Internet service provider operating in that country paid him about $100k USD to deploy the attack on a rival company.