A cyber-attack, a lone blogger and a little known country in Russia were responsible for our Ferris Bueller day-off from Twitter this week. People had to resort to the antiquated twentieth century source for the news, the newspaper! And the lives of the Twitterati were put on hiatus for hours on end! On August 5, 'DDoS', 'Cyxymu' and 'South Ossetia' meant nothing to the average Twitter user. Today, we know a little more about blocking social networks and political friction back in the USSR!
Who would have thought a 34-year-old blogger and economics professor from the republic of Georgia, with only 1701 followers could have been the target for the DDoS Attacks of August 6, 2009 that brought down Twitterville? But as this victim tweeted to the world, that was the case...
Apparently, Cyxymu, whose real name is Giorgi is an active critic of Moscow's politics in the Caucasus region of Russia and was the target of a similar attack last year that crashed LiveJournal.
According to a NY Times report who interviewed Giorgi (a refugee from the Abkhazia region, a territory on the Black Sea disputed between Russia and Georgia) first noticed in the afternoon on August 6 that LiveJournal, a popular blogging platform he uses was not working for him. “I decided to go to Facebook,” he said. “And Facebook didn’t work. Then I went to Twitter, and Twitter didn’t work. ‘How strange,’ I thought, ‘What a coincidence they all don’t work at once.’ ”
Speaking to the Guardian from an office in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, Giorgi said he believed the denial-of-service strike that hit all three social networks stemmed from an attempt to silence his criticism over Russia's conduct in the war over the disputed South Ossetia region, which began a year ago today. South Ossetia is a small enclave in the Caucasus Mountains that falls within the borders of Georgia but has been all but independent since fighting broke out in the early 1990's, after the collapse of the Soviet Union
Giorgi said his Twitter account was providing what he thought was a safe haven for refugees to exchange memories of their homeland. The Twitter page had a sepia photograph of a palm-lined city street. “It was nostalgic,” he said. When service resumed on Twitter, he released this update.
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. But they could have just as well targeted Twitter itself, as the effects were the same whether the excess traffic went to the "twitter.com" home page or to the Cyxymu Twitter account page.
So did you enjoy your Ferris Bueller day off from Twitter, or were you like others who didn't know what to do with yourself? Well at least you got to learn a little more about what's happening in the Soviet block countries. Similar to the Iranian Election protests in the Middle East, with each passing day, Twitter is transforming this planet into a smaller and smaller place! Let's hope our next Ferris Bueller Day holiday is not for a while!