Users around the world were having trouble accessing ChatGPT on 8 November and it turns out it was more than just a glitch.
OpenAI’s status page showed that both ChatGPT and users of its API were experiencing “periodic outages”.
Sam Altman tweeted that the usage of OpenAI’s newly announced features exceeded their expectations. A few hours later OpenAI said it suspected the cause was more than just a flurry of ChatGPT fans.
usage of our new features from devday is far outpacing our expectations.
we were planning to go live with GPTs for all subscribers monday but still haven’t been able to. we are hoping to soon.
there will likely be service instability in the short term due to load. sorry :/
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 8, 2023
The status update eventually acknowledged, “We are dealing with periodic outages due to an abnormal traffic pattern reflective of a DDoS attack. We are continuing work to mitigate this.”
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is carried out by sending a flood of requests to an online service to overwhelm its resources.
Hacktivists claim responsibility
OpenAI didn’t say who they suspect was behind the attack but hacktavist group Anonymous Sudan claimed they were behind the DDoS attack.
Despite its name, Anonymous Sudan is suspected to be a group of Russian hackers. Anonymous Sudan’s online attacks started in January this year and seem to be motivated by political and religious reasons.
In a Telegram post, the group said that its reasons for the attack were:
- “OpenAI’s cooperation with the occupation state of Israel and the CEO of OpenAI saying he’s willing to invest into Israel more, and his several meetings with Israeli officials like Netanyahu, as Reuters reported.”
- “AI is now being used in the development of weapons and by intelligence agencies like Mossad, and Israel also employs AI to further oppress the Palestinians.”
- “OpenAI is an American company, and we still are targeting any American company”
- “ChatGPT has a general biasness towards Israel and against Palestine as it has been exposed in twitter, in general there’s huge bias of the model towards some topics which has to be fixed”
If you gave up on ChatGPT and decided to try Bard or Claude instead you would have been disappointed. They also seemed to be having trouble with Claude responding “Due to unexpected capacity constraints, Claude is unable to respond to your message.”
There’s no word on whether they were targeted too but you can imagine how their servers got stretched to capacity once all of ChatGPT’s users suddenly flocked to their servers.
Cyber attacks show no sign of letting up and AI tools are making it easier than ever to cause significant financial damage online.
The attack on OpenAI also highlights an important AI risk. The better AI tools become, the more dependent we become on them, and the more vulnerable society is when they stop working.