Someone tried to take down the site that remembers the whole internet

WayBackMachine, a popular archive storing over 800 billion web pages, has experienced a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Just imagine this. Sam, a totally made-up business owner, discovers that a former member of the company’s board, let’s call him Ilya, has posted defamatory statements on a personal blog.

As with many rage-filled posts, Ilya might delete that post later. However, the post has already caused significant reputational damage to Sam. But Sam never made a screenshot of the defamatory post so he can’t really prove anything. But deleted doesn’t mean forgotten. Soon, Sam learns about the WayBackMachine, an internet archive that just happens to take snapshots of over 800 billion websites and archive them.

This is just one scenario of how the WayBackMachine can be used. Dating back to 1996, it’s a huge archive of web content, including 44 million books, 15 million audio recordings, including concerts, and over 10 million videos, among other valuable information.

In other words, it remembers the internet as it was yesterday and has been doing so for nearly three decades.

And someone tried to take it down, ironically (or perhaps incidentally) on US Memorial Day.

“Sorry to say, is under a DDoS attack. The data is not affected, but most services are unavailable,” the Internet Archive, the organization behind the WayBackMachine, posted on X.

Users on social media expressed their disbelief on who and why could target the internet archive.

“I am guessing this is by people that really don't believe in what you are doing. It's like burning down a library. You really have to be a low life to attack this sort of thing,” one X user said.

Some speculated that it might be just a large large model (LLM) grabbing the WayBackMachine’s data for training purposes.

Details about the attack are scarce. A DDoS essentially occurs when someone intentionally sends a large number of requests to a website, hoping the share of traffic will crash the site.

Eventually, the site was restored.

“Up again. This has been a back-and-forth with the attackers. We have made some adjustments, but geez. at least, Happy Memorial Day!”

If you haven’t tried it out yet, I suggest you go and play with it – it might even have a snapshot of your old blog. It does remember mine, and it’s slightly embarrassing. But with freedom of speech comes great responsibility, so what can you do?