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Cyber attacks on social networking sites aimed at a single user

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 08 Aug 2009 5:40

Cyber attacks on social networking sites aimed at a single user According to Internet security company F-Secure, the cyberattacks that disrupted service at Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal on Thursday were targeted at just a single blogger. The attacks appear to be politically motivated, as the targeted user, "Cyxymu", is a pro-Georgian blogger, and they also came a year after the short Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were aimed specifically at the users' personal pages on the sites. Some commentary suggests the attacks came from Russian nationalists who have control over vast botnets, whereas Cyxymu claims it came from the Russian government itself as a means to silence its critics.

"Launching DDoS attacks against services like Facebook is the equivalent of bombing a TV station because you don't like one of the newscasters," F-Secure researcher Mikko Hyponnen said. "The amount of collateral damage is huge. Millions of users of Twitter, LiveJournal, and Facebook have been experiencing problems because of this attack."

Facebook said on Friday that its service has returned to normal for its 250 million users. "Yesterday's attack appears to be directed at an individual who has a presence on a number of sites, rather than the sites themselves," the company said in a release. "Specifically, the person is an activist blogger and a botnet was directed to request his pages at such a rate that it impacted service for other users."

Wherever the attack came from, if its intent was to silence criticism, then it had the opposite effect, with Cyxymu's followers on Twitter quadrupling. "Thank you all for support after ciber (sic) attack from Russia," Cyxymu, whose location is listed as Tbilisi, said in a tweet on Friday. "The ongoing, massively coordinated attacks on Twitter this week appear to have been geopolitical in motivation," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told AFP.

With the disputed election results in Iran following the election back in June, Twitter proved to be an extremely important tool for Iranians looking for updates on the situation that didn't come from state-controlled media.

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