Incidences this week acted as reminders that sites and services that receive heavy traffic can be compromised.
Wikipedia was not accessible to many around the globe for approximately two hours on Monday afternoon. This occurred because of an accident involving the company’s fiber cables, connecting its servers at the worldwide data center in Tampa, Florida.
The site was brought back online at about 4pm UK time, 11am Eastern Standard Time in the U.S., according to the Guardian.
A spokesman for the site told the UK news source there was no suggestion of foul play for the outage.
He said that two overland cables were cut between Tampa and Virginia, which took down the website for just over an hour. It took another hour to bring the site back online, although some services were still not fully accessible.
The rare outage prompted many comments on Twitter.
The Guardian provides the example of a tweet from user, Guillermo Esteves, “Wikipedia is down. I don’t know anything anymore.”
Earlier this year, Wikipedia blacked out the site deliberately as a protest against anti-piracy laws, SOPA and PIPA, being debated in the US.
This week’s unintentional outage follows the resignation of the chairman of the charity responsible for promoting Wikipedia in the UK last week, revealed by the Telegraph, following controversy about the inclusion of explicit material on the site.
Former Chairman, Ashley van Haeften, cited concerns that the debate over his ban could cause divisions among Wikipedia supporters.
“I have discussed this matter with [Mr. van Haeften] this morning,” Jon Davies, the chief executive of the charity, which distributes £1m of donations from Wikipedia supporters annually told the Telegraph.
Where the compromises for Apple are concerned, on Friday night, Wired technology journalist Mat Honan was brutally hacked.
In a chain of events that Honan would unravel in the following days, hackers took advantage of security holes at Amazon and Apple to gain access to his iCloud account.
CNN reported that they then took over his Gmail account, remotely wiped all data from his MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad, and took over his Twitter account as well as the Twitter account of his former employer, Gizmodo.
“My experience leads me to believe that cloud-based systems need fundamentally different security measures,” Honan said in his tell-all article. “Password-based security mechanisms — which can be cracked, reset and socially engineered — no longer suffice in the era of cloud computing.”
Apple responded with an official statement on Monday night, saying, “Apple takes customer privacy seriously and requires multiple forms of verification before resetting an Apple ID password. In this particular case, the customer’s data was compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely. We are reviewing all of our processes for resetting account passwords to ensure our customers’ data is protected.”
CNN reported information from Honan which asserted otherwise, while the journalist was investigating the breach over the weekend, he said he confirmed twice with Apple tech support that only two pieces of information are required to get access to an iCloud account—a billing address and the last four digits of the credit card associated with the account.
Wired reporters say they tested the hacker’s approach by successfully trying it on another account themselves.
Amazon has not yet commented on the report.