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8/10/2009
05:57 PM
Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Russian President Urged To Find Twitter Attackers

The pro-Georgian blogger at the eye of the denial-of-service storm that brought down Twitter on August 6 has called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to find those responsible for the attacks.

The pro-Georgian blogger at the eye of the denial-of-service storm that brought down Twitter on August 6 has called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to find those responsible for the attacks.The blogger, who uses the online nickname "Cyxymu" and claims to be a 34-year-old Georgian economics professor called Georgy, has written an open letter to Mr. Medvedev appealing for an inquiry into the attack on his Websites that forced Twitter off the Internet and bombarded the likes of LiveJournal and Facebook with traffic.

I have to say I'm skeptical that the Russian authorities will be willing, let alone capable, of determining who was behind the denial-of-service attacks against Cyxymu and thus Twitter.

What does seem without much doubt is that in the run-up to the denial-of-service attack, spammers were trying to incriminate Cyxymu by sending a large number of email messages in his name claiming to come from his Gmail address.

These emails would appear to have been designed to get Cyxymu in hot water by containing links to his various accounts (including, in the example below, his YouTube account).

Email claiming to come from Cyxymu

Of course, these emails weren't actually sent by Cyxymu, but by someone else trying to muddy Cyxymu's name and perhaps trying to trick Websites into erasing his accounts for inappropriate behavior.

These emails wouldn't have caused the flood of denial-of-service traffic around the world that caused Twitter to sink, but they do suggest that someone was trying to silence the pro-Georgian blogger.

And if the forged emails didn't do the job, a distributed denial-of-service attack flooding Cyxymu's Webpages with traffic was much more likely to succeed. Of course, the fact that it also took down all of Twitter suggested that as an attack it was rather like swatting a fly with a nuclear warhead.

Cyxymu Twitter page

Cyxymu is, perhaps unsurprisingly, blaming Russia for the attack. And to be fair, it seems likely that the attack is from someone sympathetic with Russia's position in the conflict between the country and Georgia.

However, in his letter to President Medvedev Cyxymu goes one step further, claiming that the attackers were "Russian hackers working for the Russian Federation government."

The thing is, not a single shred of evidence has been produced to prove the involvement of the Kremlin in the attack. To my mind, it's much more likely to be a politically minded Russian hacker with a vendetta against Cyxymu than a state-endorsed attack.

It doesn't seem that that theory is going to satisfy Cyxymu, however, who is calling on Medvedev to track down and punish the culprits:

"Your special services are able to trace the persons involved in this case and organisers of this attack.. And your court, the most humane court in the world, is able to find and punish them."

I would be delighted if the true mastermind behind the Twitter denial-of-service attack was eventually identified, but I would not be surprised at all if they remain a mystery forever more.

Graham Cluley is senior technology consultant at Sophos, and has been working in the computer security field since the early 1990s. When he's not updating his other blog on the Sophos website, you can find him on Twitter at @gcluley. Special to Dark Reading.

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