The fragility of the social web

twitterddos So it appears that the perpetrator of the denial of service (DoS) attack yesterday on Twitter, Facebook and some Google services was someone who wanted to prevent anyone connecting with a Georgian blogger called Cyxymu.

The attack which started in mid afternoon GMT meant that Twitter was completely offline for a number of hours and other networks such as Facebook suffered degraded service during that time, says CNET News.

[…] It was a simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard," [Max] Kelly [chief security officer at Facebook] 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."

Some reports speculate that the DoS attack was in the form of a spam email campaign where people clicked on a link in spam messages that referenced the Georgian blogger although Facebook doesn’t think it’s spam email. All Twitter says for now is:

[…that it] appears to be a single, massively coordinated attack. As to the motivation behind this event, we prefer not to speculate.

cyxymukgb The Georgian blogger Cyxymu is willing to speculate.

Whatever or whoever it was, it certainly caused serious disruption on the social web and to people’s ability to connect with others online in ways that are increasingly popular.

Ironically, I was offline and unplugged for much of yesterday and became aware of the Twitter outage when I came back online at about 4:15pm UK time. With no Twitter, I did the next-best thing: tried Facebook.


That was working for me.

Yet I soon switched away from Facebook’s closed walled garden to the more open and shareable Friendfeed.


What does this DoS attack and outage mean in the overall scale of things online?

Well, to me it says that the online tools and channels we use are relatively fragile and something we shouldn’t place too much reliance on at the expense of other means of communication.

Or if we do, we should recognize that fragility.

It’s also a stark reminder that bad guys anywhere are able to cause serious disruption to technology services we do rely on and so cause chaos on a global scale.

I can’t imagine for a minute that this is the last time we experience something like this.

There is a great deal more opinion and commentary you can read about this event. And here’s a different angle: the effects of this from an application/service developer’s point of view.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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