Twitter attack was aimed at economics professor

10 Aug 2009

As Twitter recovers from the DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack that brought the service down for several hours throughout Thursday and Friday, it was discovered that targeted blogger Cyxymu is an economics professor from the republic of Georgia.

The economics professor – who identified himself as Giorgi in a telephone interview to the New York Times – claims that his LiveJournal blog acted as a meeting point of place of discussion for refugees from Abkhazia to talk about their experiences.

The Twitter attack, which brought the relatively new and fast growing service to its knees, also affected access to Facebook and targeted YouTube, all places where Cyxymu had accounts.

Before this happened a ‘joe job’ was carried out on his email address, in effect sending millions of spam emails that looked like they were coming from his account.

Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer of the internet security firm F-Secure, said on the firm’s blog that launching DDoS attacks against services like Facebook was “the equivalent of bombing a TV station because you don’t like one of the newscasters”.

“The amount of collateral damage is huge. Million of users of Twitter, Livejournal, and Facebook have been experiencing problems because of this attack.

“Whoever is behind this attack, they had significant bandwidth available. Our best guess is that these attacks were done by nationalistic Russian hackers who wanted to silence a visible online opponent. While doing that, they’ve only managed to attract more attention to Cyxymu and his message,” added Hyppönen.

Cyxymu himself, on his Twitter account, claimed: “this hackers was from Russian KGB.”

While Cyxymu’s Twitter and Facebook accounts are online, his Livejournal blog, where most of his blogging and communications took place, is still not available.

LiveJournal is a very popular blogging platform in Russia and was acquired from US firm Six Apart in December 2007 by Moscow-based media company SUP.