Wikipedia disrupted globally in apparent denial of service attack

Network data show that Wikipedia servers have become intermittently unavailable as of approximately 6:00 p.m. UTC Friday 6 September 2019. Measurements show the disruptions are not related to filtering and have global impact with a focal point around Europe.

At 1:30 a.m. UTC, Saturday, the attack extended to a near-total outage in the United States and much of the world, continuing up until 2:40 a.m. UTC as of when access is, for the time being, restored:

Data indicate that the attack was initially staged in two phases, with the first briefly causing high latencies in the Americas from 6:00 p.m. UTC, and the second resulting in more severe outages across Western, Central and Eastern Europe, with disruptions also affecting the Middle East and South Asia.

 

At 9 p.m. UTC Wikimedia Germany reported a “massive and very broad” DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on Wikimedia Foundation servers, explaining that Wikipedia and sister projects are temporarily unavailable:

The Wikimedia Foundation has measures in place to mitigate attacks orchestrated by disgruntled users and governments demanding editorial changes or takedowns of unfavourable articles.

A total global Wikipedia outage was identified on 15 May 2019, and the site often faces disruptions of lower magnitude although outages are rarely protracted:

The motivation and origin of the current attack have not yet been established. The popular online encyclopedia has been totally blocked in Turkey since 2017, is varyingly restricted in China, and was briefly filtered in Venezuela in January 2019. DDoS attacks are distinct from instances of state filtering or blocking, because they have broader international impact but typically last for short periods.

NetBlocks is partnered with Wikimedia Norway to support access to knowledge globally, monitoring access to over 200 Wikipedia language editions around the world in real-time.


Methodology

Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe analytics measurements. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.

Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe analytics measurements. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.


NetBlocks is a civil society group working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance. Independent and non-partisan, NetBlocks strives for an open and inclusive digital future for all.

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