Dropbox explains outage, denies breach

January 13, 2014 // 11:13 a.m.

Tags: #backup #cloud #cloud-storage #cracker #crackers #dropbox #outage #security

Cloud storage service Dropbox has apologised for an outage that saw the service inaccessible to most for the entirety of the weekend, while denying claims that it was downed by an attack that resulted in the loss of user data.

A popular choice for the storage and sharing of files, thanks largely to a generous affiliate scheme which allows users to quickly build up a relatively large cache of free storage, Dropbox has had its fair share of security problems in the past. Its most recent outage, however, is claimed to be rather more straightforward: a glitch during routine maintenance that took the service offline until late Sunday, with some functions still not available to all users.

'On Friday at 5:30 PM PT, we had a planned maintenance scheduled to upgrade the OS on some of our machines,' explained Dropbox's Akhil Gupta in an official post-mortem analysis of the outage. 'During this process, the upgrade script checks to make sure there is no active data on the machine before installing the new OS. A subtle bug in the script caused the command to reinstall a small number of active machines. Unfortunately, some master-slave pairs were impacted which resulted in the site going down.

'To restore service as fast as possible, we performed the recovery from our backups. We were able to restore most functionality within 3 hours, but the large size of some of our databases slowed recovery, and it took until 4:40 PM PT today [Sunday] for core service to fully return.'

Initial reports claimed that a group of crackers had taken responsibility for the outage, claiming to have breached Dropbox's network and made off with account details of its customers. This, however, has been denied by Dropbox and those who had claimed responsibility have retracted their statements - seemingly a case of attention-hungry types taking advantage of the initial silence on the matter from official Dropbox channels.

At the time of writing, while core system functionality has been restored selected other services are still unavailable for the majority of Dropbox's users.
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