It would seem that the hits just keep on coming for social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook. According to a Facebook executive, a pro-Georgian blogger, using the account name "Cyxymu" (the name of a town in the Republic of Georgia), with accounts on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google's Blogger and LiveJournal was targeted in a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) Thursday that led to the a site-wide outage of Twitter and problems for the other websites.
Twitter was reported as stating that it suffered a denial of service attack that allowed hackers to command numerous computers toward a single site at the same time, preventing legitimate traffic from getting through. Some have presumed that the attacks may have been related to the ongoing political conflict between Russia and Georgia.
Max Kelly, chief security officer at Facebook, declined to speculate on whether Russian nationalists were behind the attack, but said: "You have to ask who would benefit the most from doing this and think about what those people are doing and the disregard for the rest of the users and the Internet."
Due to the attack focused on Cyxymu, who had accounts on all of the different sites that were hacked at the same time, various issues have been recorded. Twitter was down for several hours beginning early Thursday morning, and suffered periodic timeouts and a decrease in speed throughout the day. Cyxymu's LiveJournal page was inaccessible. A cached version of the same page showed that an update had taken place Thursday with a message about the DOS or denial of service attack on the accounts on US-based sites. "Now it's obvious it's a special attack against me and Georgians," the message said in Russian.
"It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard," Kelly said. "We're actively investigating the source of the attacks and we hope to be able to find out the individuals involved in the back end and to take action against them if we can."
Facebook and Google were able to minimize any impact to their respective websites. Facebook even managed to keep the Cyxymu account accessible to Web users from that region, although it remained inaccessible to people in other geographical regions, including San Francisco. Kelly went on to explain that this was the first coordinated assault on the sites, and all the companies involved were working closely on the investigation. "My team and the teams that are working together at all these companies are doing a really good job very quickly and I'm proud and happy," he said.
A Google spokesman released this statement: "We are aware that a handful of non-Google sites were impacted by a DOS attack this morning, and are in contact with some affected companies to help investigate this attack. Google systems prevented substantive impact to our services."
Political and military conflicts between Russia and its former Republic leaked online last year with DOS attacks lead to web site destruction for both areas. Here's hoping this is not a continuation of those attacks, otherwise we may be seeing a more dramatic escalation in the near future.