Archive of Our Own (AO3), a popular website for fan-written fiction, is currently down due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. That is the shortest answer to your “Is AO3 down?” question. Let’s take a look at the details of the AO3 DDoS attack.
Archive of Our Own is currently down because it is under a DDoS attack. On Monday afternoon, more than 4,000 users in the US reported problems on Downdetector. The website itself was primarily the source of the reported problems.
“The Archive is having problems, as many of you have seen,” Archive of Our Own acknowledged in many tweets. We’re investigating it, so kindly wait. Since 2 pm, reports have fluctuated, with users saying that the problem is fixed, only for the website to crash once more minutes later.
The Archive is experiencing some issues (as many of you have noticed). We're looking into it, please stand by!
— AO3 Status (@AO3_Status) July 10, 2023
Why is AO3 down? Details of the AO3 DDoS attack
At 1:24 PM on July 10, 2023 (GMT), AO3 tweeted the first acknowledgment of the problem, stating, “The Archive is experiencing some issues.” Later, on July 10, 2023, at 6:38 PM, AO3 tweeted that a DDoS attack was to blame for the outage, saying, “It looks like the Archive is under a DDoS attack causing the servers to fall over.”
The AO3 DDoS attacks were carried out by “a collective of religiously and politically motivated hackers.” Hackread.com has contacted AO3 for an official comment in an effort to shed light on the attackers’ identities and motivations, despite the fact that their true names are still unknown.
A DDoS attack occurs when a malicious actor floods a website with so many requests that it becomes overloaded and unusable.
DDoS attacks have created network outages, but AO3 has assured its consumers that their private information is secure. Users do not need to change their passwords in reaction to this issue, the site noted.
The AO3 community is watching the situation closely and is hoping for a speedy resolution to the continuous DDoS attacks so that they may continue to read their cherished fanfiction repository without interruption.
When attempting to access the website right now, users could receive Error Code 429 rather than 503. The code for too many requests is error 429. It’s possible that AO3 is adopting this strategy to address the problems because a DDoS attack is when hackers attempt to overwhelm a website with requests.
Who is responsible for the AO3 DDoS attack?
The hacktivist collective Anonymous Sudan has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is part of a series of related DDoS strikes on American businesses. The American non-profit Organization for Transformative Works manages AO3. Anonymous Sudan said that AO3, in particular, is “against all forms of degeneracy, and the site is full of disgusting smuts and other LGBTQ+ and NSFW things.”
However, AO3 has cautioned against accepting the motivational claims of its adversary at face value. Security professionals suspect that Anonymous Sudan may actually be connected to Russia, with its main objective being to cause disruption and sow discord in the West.
According to AO3’s Twitter account, “a group presenting themselves as a collective of religiously and politically motivated hackers has claimed responsibility for the attack. Experts do not believe they are honest about their motivation, so we urge caution in believing any reasoning they provide for targeting AO3.”
“We do not condone anti-Muslim sentiments under any circumstances. Additionally, to reiterate: cybersecurity experts believe the group claiming responsibility is lying about their affiliation and reasons for attacking websites. View the group’s statements with skepticism,” it continued.
Despite the fact that Anonymous Sudan first stated the attack would last up to 24 hours, it has since demanded a ransom and threatened to continue hitting AO3 for “weeks” until $30,000 in Bitcoin is paid.
They are unfortunate because AO3 makes a terrible target for extortion. Even if it wanted to, it’s unlikely that the fan fiction website, which is solely supported by contributions and run by volunteers, could pay the ransom.
What is a DDoS attack?
Denial-of-service assaults, also known as DoS attacks, are a frequent strategy employed by malevolent actors to take websites offline. This is accomplished by repeatedly sending the website more requests than it can manage, overloading its servers, and impeding its ability to handle valid requests.
DDoS assaults are multi-source distributed denial-of-service attacks that flood a target with traffic. DDoS attacks are conducted using networks of computers linked to the Internet.
These networks are made up of computers and other devices, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, that have been infected with malware, enabling an attacker to manage them remotely. These particular gadgets are known as bots (or zombies), and a botnet is a collection of bots.
Once a botnet has been created, the attacker can control an attack by giving each bot remote commands.
What is AO3?
The non-profit Organization for Transformative Works is the organization behind the open-source website AO3. The service, which launched in 2008, lets users upload and read fanfiction.
According to one of its preserved web pages, it has subsequently developed into a major repository for fanfiction and currently hosts over 11 million pieces spanning 57,840 different fandoms. The website not only gained popularity due to its size but also because it won the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work.
Over 5 million members and over 11 million literature works, from short stories to novels, are available on Ao3. 2019 saw the website win a Hugo Award.
AO3 down: How to check service status
The AO3 DDoS attack came as a surprise to many users as it does not happen very often. The website will eventually go up again and there are two different ways to check the AO3 down status, DownDetector and social media.
AO3 not working: DDoS and its threats to online communities
- Open your web browser.
- Go to DownDetector.
- Type Archive of Or Own.
- Click the website.
- Check if there are any unusualities reported by other users.
Another method we would like to recommend for assessing AO3’s health is looking at the official social profiles on websites like Twitter. Twitter users can follow the official AO3 account, which occasionally also covers service-related news, to remain up to date with everything AO3-related.
Featured image credit: MEHRAX/Unsplash