Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

8/7/2009
01:29 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

DDoS Attacks On Twitter, Facebook Result Of Massive Attack On One Person

Botnet attack takes aim at pro-Georgian blogger and leaves collateral damage on social networking sites

It turns out yesterday's major distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that shut down Twitter for hours and disrupted Facebook and LiveJournal came out of a targeted attack waged against one individual with accounts on all of the sites.

A pro-Georgian blogger called "Cyxymu" was apparently the intended target of the massive DDoS that knocked down Twitter and caused major slowdowns on Facebook and LiveJournal when a botnet apparently blasted waves of traffic at his accounts on the sites simultaneously in an effort to shut down his communiques.

Cyxymu tweeted yesterday on his Twitter profile that the attackers were "Russian KGB." The blogger, who later unmasked himself to CNN as "George," 34, of Tbilisi, Georgia, told the cable giant that his recent blog posts may have triggered the attacks. One post, he told CNN, discussed "how Russia was preparing military aggression (sic) against Georgia, how they were training soldiers and mobilizing military equipment, what kind of provocations were carried out by the separatists prior to the war," according to the CNN report. He also said the attacks were timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Georgia conflict.

As of this morning, Cyxymu's LiveJournal site was still down.

Various reports attributed the attack to an email spam run gone wild, but security experts dismissed that theory, saying it had to be a coordinated attack from bots. "There's no way that simply spamming out email containing the links would generate that kind of traffic to the social networking sites. There simply wouldn't be enough people who would click on the links to create a DDoS," says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "So this must have been a 'traditional' DDoS attack from compromised computers [that] could hammer the Websites with multiple requests every few seconds."

Twitter acknowledged it was working with other services on "what appears to be a single, massively coordinated attack. As to the motivation behind this event, we prefer not to speculate." It said no user data was compromised.

Facebook confirmed the attacks were going after one person: "Yesterday's attack appears to be directed at an individual who has a presence on a number of sites, rather than the sites themselves. Specifically, the person is an activist blogger and a botnet was directed to request his pages at such a rate that it impacted service for other users. We've isolated the issue and almost all of our users are able to enjoy the normal Facebook experience," the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Facebook's chief security officer, Max Kelly, is quoted in another report: "It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard," he told CNET.

And from the blog of Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for F-Secure: "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."

In addition to the DDoS attacks on Cyxymu's Twitter, Facebook, and LiveJournal accounts, Hypponen says the blogger's YouTube account was DDoS'ed, and he was also targeted by a so-called "Joe Job'"spamming attack with email purported to be from "George" and trying to lure users to his blog on LiveJournal.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
'BootHole' Vulnerability Exposes Secure Boot Devices to Attack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4396
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
IBM Jazz Foundation and IBM Engineering products are vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 1...
CVE-2020-4410
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
IBM Jazz Foundation and IBM Engineering products could allow an authenticated user to send a specially crafted HTTP GET request to read attachments on the server that they should not have access to. IBM X-Force ID: 179539.
CVE-2020-4459
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
IBM Security Verify Access 10.7 contains hard-coded credentials, such as a password or cryptographic key, which it uses for its own inbound authentication, outbound communication to external components, or encryption of internal data. IBM X-Force ID: 181395.
CVE-2020-4525
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
IBM Jazz Foundation and IBM Engineering products are vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 1...
CVE-2020-4542
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-04
IBM Jazz Foundation and IBM Engineering products are vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-force ID: 1...