Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine under DDoS cyber-attack

The Internet Archive, the nonprofit research library that’s home to millions of historical documents, preserved websites, and media content, is currently in its third day of warding off an intermittent DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) cyber-attack. According to library staff, the collections are safe, though service remains inconsistent. Access to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine – which preserves the history of more than 866 billion web pages – has also been impacted.

Since the attacks began on Sunday, the DDoS intrusion has been launching tens of thousands of fake information requests per second. The source of the attack is unknown.

 “Thankfully the collections are safe, but we are sorry that the denial-of-service attack has knocked us offline intermittently during these last three days,” explained Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. “With the support from others and the hard work of staff we are hardening our defenses to provide more reliable access to our library. What is new is this attack has been sustained, impactful, targeted, adaptive, and importantly, mean.”

Cyber-attacks are increasingly frequent against libraries and other knowledge institutions, with the British Library, the Solano County Public Library (California), the Berlin Natural History Museum, and Ontario’s London Public Library all being recent victims.

In addition to a wave of recent cyber-attacks, the Internet Archive is also being sued by the US book publishing and US recording industries associations, which are claiming copyright infringement and demanding combined damages of hundreds of millions of  dollars and diminished services from all libraries. 

“If our patrons around the globe think this latest situation is upsetting, then they should be very worried about what the publishing and recording industries have in mind,” added Kahle. “I think they are trying to destroy this library entirely and hobble all libraries everywhere. But just as we’re resisting the DDoS attack, we appreciate all the support in pushing back on this unjust litigation against our library and others.”

14 thoughts on “Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine under DDoS cyber-attack

  1. Bas

    There must be better protection against DoS attacks. I can imagine BIND protocol change.
    Or more agressive: detect and confirm IP of incoming pings and automatically ping back, but tenfold.
    This was not what the net was built for of course. Until about 1996, internet still was University dominated. Since images were not supported…
    Our world needs more readers, less visuals, less adolescent influencers.

  2. John Royce

    Thank you so much for communicating the situation!

    I support the Archive and I hope enough people can see these attacks on humanity’s information sources for what they are.

    1. Terence Love

      Likewise at Toronto Public Libraries last fall – a ransomware attack that kept computer systems down till January 2024.

  3. Alphonse Davis

    Am I the only one baffled as to who would want to take the IA offline, and why?

    If the IA ever learns who is behind these attacks, I hope it will see fit to tell us. I would be very interested to know just who it is who thinks the IA is a bad idea.

    1. Will

      Call me cynical but I would say either publishers or lets go conspiracy mode something incriminating sad caught by a snapshot of someone powerful and they plan on burying it this way

    2. Jess

      If it’s a publisher, joke’s on them. Rather than buying one of the books that I need for research–many obscure, some overpriced–one might be inclined to go from the at least mostly law-abiding Internet Archive to those less concerned with upholding the law – the equivalent of SciHub, but for books.

      And one might even venture beyond the realms of what one is strictly required to read, and explore the vast numbers of books there.

  4. Terence Love

    This can be taken to strongly suggest there may be greater reasons to protect and support Internet Archive than any of us can know or imagine.

  5. Mark W

    Maybe those publishers are not so confident in their litigation, after all?
    We the public, support IA in this fight.

  6. Andreas

    Who would want to take IA down?
    Two kinds:
    1) People who thinks the public should not have access to information unless they pay for it.
    2) People who thinks the public should not have access to information.

    The latter includes for-profit peddlers of misinformation, as well as nation states that rely on misinformation tactics.

    Sadly, this doesn’t narrow the field very much.

  7. Laura Fillmore Evans

    Thanks to the IA for preserving and making freely available our collective recorded creations and memories! The DDOS demons will fail against the brilliant minds at our Library, as will the private entities seeking to profit from or silence and suppress the books that inform our lives. Long Live the Internet Archive!

  8. Matt

    Whoever it is, they’re doing it to all of us, including themselves. Good thing we’re in it together, including them. Hopefully they come around some day. Good luck continuing to harden things, and if you could use help reach out.

  9. Kelsey

    This is absolutely not OK, these people have put in their blood, sweat, tears, hearts and souls to this wonderful work. This DDOS attack is a front for everything this website stands for, it’s a freaking library! I don’t care what your motivations are, nobody has the right to deny people the right to learn, discover or remember things that they want: from anime lovers watching old shows, old cartoon songs to be sung and timeless lessons to be retold this website is too important to humanity as a whole.

    If anyone is in agreement, then please follow these links and do everything you can to pitch in: https://www.battleforlibraries.com/ and https://www.battleforlibraries.com/congress/. Lastly, i have a sneaking suspicion that i’m the only one who nearly lost their damn mind over this incident, so please brothers and sisters make your voices known and support this site with all the love and support you can give it.

    Spread this tagline: “Long Live the Internet Archive!”

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