Dropbox Downtime and Aaron Swartz


Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 1.05.51 pm

Yesterday afternoon as I camped out in Hornsby Central Library avoiding the heat and the scorching sunlight outside, I was making yet more changes to this blog when all my images started refusing to load and files I recently placed in Dropbox were unable to be synced.

Assuming this was a problem with the library's wireless network, which was further reinforced by a staff member coming up and asking me if the internet connection was having problems, I attempted again and again to load the images on my blog so I could properly visualise my changes. They managed to load perhaps once every three refreshes, so I gave up and started hosting some images locally for my editing efforts.

It wasn't until later that evening, however, that I realised that Dropbox had in fact been subjected to a DSoS attack, although at the time it was thought that there had been a security breach. The site's user database had thought to be accessed and leaked although later they admitted this was false. Dropbox, meanwhile, continues to claim it was merely an error during routine maintenance.

Honouring his memory?

The group behind this 'hacking', whether it was true or not, is known as 1775Sec and claimed that this action had been taken in honour of the one-year anniversary of Aaron Swartz's death. While the date is correct, I do not see how this groups' recent actions would ever be endorsed by the late Swartz. Admittedly this is my own perspective though.

At least as a result of this incident, I have become more aware of the influence Swartz has had on our world today as he helped to develop RSS 1.0, Creative Commons, Reddit and Markdown as well as campaigned against SOPA and tirelessly promoted Open Access. Things that we are still benefitting from today.

While I can understand the efforts of Anonymous hacking MIT domains and US Government websites to draw attention to the university's shortcomings in neglecting to extend their support as well as the US Government's shameful handling of the entire case, 1775Sec's apparent 'hacking' of the Dropbox website makes little sense to me, unless it's a comment on Dropbox being considered by the NSA for surveillance.

I suppose Swartz's case reinforces though, that bad things can happen to good people, and Swartz was one of the best. What he stood for was extremely admirable and touched people all over the world. What we can do is go on advocating his message for a more open web, but I'm not sure this is the proper way to do so.