The Target Behind Yesterday's Denial Of Service Attack

A screen shot of Cyxymu's twitter page. i i

hide captionFacebook officials believe yesterday's denial of service attack was directed at one user: A Georgian man who goes by the name Cyxymu and is being called by some bloggers the first "digital refugee." This is a screenshot of his Twitter feed.

Eyder Peralta/NPR
A screen shot of Cyxymu's twitter page.

Facebook officials believe yesterday's denial of service attack was directed at one user: A Georgian man who goes by the name Cyxymu and is being called by some bloggers the first "digital refugee." This is a screenshot of his Twitter feed.

Eyder Peralta/NPR

This morning brought some clarity to yesterday's denial of service attack that brought down Twitter and slowed down Facebook. Cnet quotes Facebook's chief security officer saying the attacks targeted a single Georgian blogger: Cyxymu.

Jon Foreman, a product manager here at NPR who speaks Russian, took a look at Cyxymu's Twitter and Live Journal sites and, for the most part, found posts that seemed fairly tame. On his Live Journal, he linked to the biggest collection of photographs of the Georgia/Abkhazia conflict and linked to a full list of Georgian recipes.

On his Twitter page, which has only 41 updates, Cyxymu blames the Russians for the attack and apologizes for the trouble. Keep in mind those are his accusations and we still know very little about who is behind all of this.

There's plenty of coverage out there right now, but by the far the most interesting comes from Evgeny Morozov, who blogs for Foreign Policy and has been following the story for a while.

Morozov wonders if Cyxymu is the first digital refugee and boils down the potential reasons for the denial of service attack.

He writes:

For those who do not follow the Russian-speaking blogosphere, I should point out that CYXYMY is not a crusading investigative journalist who produces breaking stories that challenge the regime; he's more of a pundit who has very articulate and predictably Kremlin-bashing views on the regional conflicts. His blog is also somewhat of a news hub: he has done an amazing job of keeping his followers in the loop as to what happens in Abkhazia and Georgia, the two regions that are not exactly in the center of media attention (even in Russia). He's definitely NOT the blogosphere's version of Anna Politkovskaia; it is his opinions and visibility - rather than his revelations - that have made him an important target.

Thus, I think that the attackers' real goal was humiliation, not censorship (however, more on the censorship part at the very end). A secondary goal was to generate awe-inducing headlines about Russia's cyberpower all over the Web; there is no better way to do it these days than to make Twitter inaccessible for a few hours.

Cyxymu's Live Journal page was unavailable at the time of publishing, but the cached version is still accessible.

UPDATE: The Guardian has landed an interview with Cyxymu.

UPDATE: Listen to Liane Hansen's interview with Evgeny Morozov after the jump.

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