ChatGPT Allegedly Targeted by Anonymous Sudan DDoS Attack

  • By Steven
  • Nov 10, 2023

ChatGPT Targeted by Anonymous Sudan

OpenAI has suffered a successful DDoS attack following the first-ever DevDay—where OpenAI announced ChatGPT-4 Turbo and the GPT Store. OpenAI’s ChatGPT launch was nearly a year ago and has since become the mainstream solution for AI tasks. The software hosts a hearty 180.5 million users, many of whom use the software for professional tasks. The DDoS attack is alarming, not because it happened, but because of who claims the event—Russian-backed Anonymous Sudan.

How Did the Attack Occur? 

Developers and users were first to feel the impact; outages repeatedly downed ChatGPT and its connected tools. The service outages are presumably a symptom of what OpenAI suggests as a DDoS assault. “DDoS” refers to Denial of Service, where malicious actors target a vulnerable application or infrastructure; in DDoS attacks, the assailants flood the vulnerable gateway with requests, halting the flow of data and causing a subsequent outage. At the time of this writing, the ChatGPT Incident Report lists the offending “traffic pattern” as similar to a DDoS; however, nothing is definitive. 

What Do We Know About Anonymous Sudan? 

Hackers can orchestrate DDoS attacks against individuals or organizations; Anonymous Sudan is one “hacktivist” group that utilizes them alongside other breaching strategies. A form of internet activism, “hacktivists” tend to target systems for politically motivated goals; the arguably most well-known hacktivist group is Anonymous. Despite Anonymous Sudan’s name, the assailants are not Anonymous—nor Sudan. Anonymous Sudan’s targets recently have concerned Sweden’s NATO systems; subsequently, their motives for disrupting ChatGPT are unclear.

How Did OpenAI Admit to the Breach? 

ChatGPT, the API, Labs, and Playground experienced sporadic service, ultimately triggering an investigation on November 8th, 2023. Presumably, the threat response included downing all impacted software while experts assessed the situation. Over the following hours, they launched a quick fix, only to have outages persist. Their timeline indicates that almost eight hours after the initial issues began, the attack seemed consistent with DDoS.

How Might OpenAI Defend Against Future DDoS? 

OpenAI and other developers can protect against future DDoS attacks if they learn from past events. OpenAI’s current defenses are likely the reason this event wasn’t more destructive; whatever application or infrastructure vulnerability allowed for the attack could have resulted in far worse consequences than downed service. It could be that the DDoS was a decoy, playing out to divert resources from other areas of the system. In the future, OpenAI will likely implement more server-level protections, robust network hardware, and an axillary service of defensive resources. 

What Should Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach? 

Although this DDoS attack did not expose consumer data, it could have. If OpenAI had not taken proactive measures before the attack, its results may have devastated account holders. OpenAI’s preventative acts have allowed users to secure their information before another breach. Those who care about their cybersecurity and identity credentials must protect themselves despite a breach. Enable multi-factor authentication everywhere, use a password manager to maintain strong passwords, and consider monitoring services across all accounts. These are some acts that will help mitigate future breach damages.

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