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Report: Attackers took down Twitter to silence one person

Fri Aug 7, 2009 9:50AM EDT

New and disturbing details about Thursday's worldwide Twitter outage point to a single, coordinated attack targeting just one person: an outspoken Georgian blogger who goes by the handle "Cyxymu." Also affected: millions of other Twitter users.

According to CNET News.com, which got its information from a Facebook security executive, it appears that Cyxymu's Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, and Blogger accounts were attacked simultaneously in a massive denial-of-service attack. Facebook, LiveJournal and Blogger were able to ward off the attack for the most part, but the assault brought Twitter to its knees for much of Thursday.

The culprits still haven't been identified, CNET reported, although an Internet traffic expert quoted by the New York Times said the attack came from Abkhazia, a territory along the eastern coast of the Black Sea that's in dispute between Russia and the Republic of Georgia.

And why was Cyxymu—a pro-Georgian blogger who "has long been viewed as an antagonist by some Russian supporters," according to The Register—targeted? "To keep his voice from being heard," the Facebook exec told CNET.

Here's what I find so chilling about yesterday's Twitter attack: that these guys, whoever they are, apparently thought nothing of taking down an entire communications network because they didn't like what one person was saying.

Imagine if someone didn't like what you were saying, and decided to shut you up by nuking your ISP, or your wireless carrier. Or heck, the entire phone system. All for you.

Personally, I can survive a morning without telling my legion of followers (all couple hundred of them) that I could really, really use a cup of coffee right now. (Although I know you're all dying to hear about that, right?)

I'm far more disturbed by (as the Facebook exec told CNET) "the disregard for the rest of the users and the Internet" displayed by these brazen thugs and their crude, indiscriminant attacks.

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