Today saw denial of service attacks on well-known social networking websites MySpace and Facebook, micro-blogging site Twitter and other websites, leaving as many as 30 million users worldwide without access to Twitter alone. But reports are coming in is that the target was not the companies – but was an attack to one user who supports the Republic of Georgia.
As of the time of writing, many users are reporting that they are still unable to access Twitter sometimes as it still tries to combat the attacks. Facebook, however, is reported to have some success as it is still up.
Twitter has not responded to any comment on the attack, and but has said that it has been working with the other affected websites about the attack. “Over the last few hours, Twitter has been working closely with other companies and services affected by what appears to be a single, massively coordinated attack.”
“As to the motivation behind this event, we prefer not to speculate.”
While traditional Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks usually attack the site via a non-existent page that would then crash the server via the multitudes of requests for that non-existent page; the sites were taken down by people clicking on spam links that referenced a blogger known as “Cyxymu” and to one of his profiles on the site, with the server crashing because it was unable to handle the load – and that is what research director for Packet Clearing House, Bill Woodcock, told the Register.
“This was a joejob where people were just clicking on links in email and the people clicking on the links were not malefactors. They were just the sort of idiots that click on links in email without knowing what they are,” he told writer Dan Goodin.
The user is said, according to his Twitter profile, to be living in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, and is seen to be silencing a pro-Georgian blogger by hackers from Russia. The attack was timed around the one-year ‘anniversary’ of the Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia.
Among his profiles, LiveJournal (the cached version is seen above) and Twitter were reported to be the hardest hit from the attack. According to CNET, his profile was still accessible in the Georgian area, but outside that remains inaccessible, even from Melbourne and San Francisco.
This is not the first, and won’t be the last, that the Russians have used cyber attacks over an enemy. Russia was widely seen as the location of many of the hackers of Georgia’s cyber attack, and Estonia’s cyber attacks back in 2007. It is widely speculated that the hackers are employed by the Russian Government, but this claim has not been backed up with evidence.