Saturday, August 8, 2009

Facebook, Twitter, disrupted by hackers attacking lone blogger in the former Soviet republic of Georgia...

Facebook, Twitter disrupted by hackers attacking lone blogger in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Suspicions of Russian involvement have not been confirmed as yet!

The outage that knocked Twitter offline for hours has been allegedly traced to an attack on a lone blogger in the former Soviet republic of Georgia - known as "Cyxymu".

Twitter crashed because of a denial-of-service attack, in which hackers command scores of computers toward a single site at the same time to prevent legitimate traffic from getting through.

The attack was targeted at a blogger who goes by "Cyxymu" - the name of a town in Georgia - on several websites, including Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal.

But they could have just as well targeted Twitter itself. That's because the effects were the same whether the excess traffic went to the twitter home page or to the page for Cyxymu at twitter. Same with Facebook and LiveJournal.

Kazuhiro Gomi, chief technology officer for NTT America Enterprise Hosting Services, which hosts Twitter's service said the attacking computers were located around the world and the source of the attacks was not known.

The attacks seemed to come in two waves:

The first was a spam campaign consisting of emails with links back to posts by Cyxymu. This drove some traffic to the blogger's postings on various social-networking sites, possibly to disparage him as the source of the spam.

The second and more destructive phase consisted of the denial-of-service attack, which attacked the sites' servers by sending it lots of junk requests - presumably to prevent people from reading his viewpoints.

It would have been much harder for the perpetrators of the attacks to isolate Cyxymu's accounts on each social-networking site and shut it down. To do that, they would have needed to access his password by guessing it or somehow luring him into giving it out.

The blunt approach was easier - and more damaging.

Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker told the Weekend Herald that websites run from New Zealand were vulnerable to attacks such as those that heavily disrupted Twitter and Facebook.

Users of the social networking sites faced outages or delays after suspected "denial-of-service" attacks - in which hackers overwhelm a website's servers with communications requests - leaving millions unable to carry out their daily routines.

The attacks, which came a month after the White House website was targeted in a similar online assault, have underscored the vulnerability of fast-growing networking sites that have been heralded as powerful new political tools.

Mr Cocker said many denial-of-service attacks occurred every day, but most were launched by people without the means to do any real damage.

"A denial-of-service attack is literally bringing the website down ... as opposed to hacking a website trying to steal something from it.

Acknowledgements: Weekend Herald.

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