OpenAI admitted to suffering a two-hour outage after a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by the hacktivist group Anonymous Sudan.
ChatGPT was offline during this time which came shortly after the OpenAI DevDay Conference where many new features of the generative AI tool were announced.
At first, the company believed that the uptick in website interest was due to these new announcements, but it became clear quickly that traffic was an attempt to overwhelm the company servers and bring the site down.
OpenAI competitor Anthropic suffered periodic outages on the same day but it is not clear if this was a result of a similar DDoS attack.
While Anonymous Sudan describes itself as waging cyber strikes on behalf of oppressed Muslims worldwide, many leading cybersecurity researchers believe the attacks were linked to Russia and say its targets consistently match the Kremlin’s geopolitical priorities.
In June, the group attacked Microsoft in retaliation for US policies regarding Sudan’s military conflict.
The timing of the attack was unfortunate for OpenAI as it had just released its new version of its generative AI tool, ChatGPT 4.0 Turbo.
Microsoft, OpenAI’s biggest partner, has been incredibly bullish on the technology, but a day after the DDoS attack, Microsoft employees were briefly blocked from accessing ChatGPT.
Some reports said that the blockage was a mistake, and others said it was due to enhanced security, possibly related to the ongoing resolution to the DDoS attack.
DDoS attacks are typically meant to drive headlines by taking popular sites down for hours or even days, but they sometimes can be more malicious.
Anonymous Sudan’s focus on OpenAI and Anthropic is an obvious attempt to generate press because of the widespread interest in generative AI.