Wikipedia went offline Friday afternoon and into Saturday morning after a cyber attack forced an international shutdown. The outage affected millions of users across Europe and in parts of the Middle East.
While the post doesn’t go into detail about what exactly happened, Wikimedia’s German Twitter account confirmed that a wide-ranging distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack drove the online encyclopedia offline. Just as a refresher for any less-techie folks out there, a DDOS attack is when hackers overwhelm a server or network with more traffic than it can handle in the hopes of shutting it down.
Wikimedia’s post trashed the cyber attackers in no uncertain terms, particularly spelling out why, for a free resource as ubiquitous as Wikipedia, being down for any length of time carries some serious risks:
We condemn these sorts of attacks. They’re not just about taking Wikipedia offline. 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.
The group is still working to restore access “wherever you might be reading Wikipedia in the world” and promised future updates in its post. Early Saturday afternoon, Techcrunch reported that Wikipedia continued to remain offline in parts of the United Kingdom, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy. Several user reports on Down Detector have since indicated that the United Kingdom, Poland and the Netherlands have regained access.
Gizmodo has reached out to Wikipedia for comment and will update this story should they respond.