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Cyber attack that brought down Twitter was aimed at dissident blogger

August 7, 2009 |  1:18 pm

The cyber attack that brought down Twitter for several hours Thursday was aimed at a single blogger located in the country of Georgia.

The blogger was identified as a dissident who uses the name of Cyxymu, according to a source close to Facebook, which was also targeted in the attack.

The attack began about 5 a.m. PDT, with hackers trying to discredit Cyxymu by making him appear to be a spammer, according to analysts at the Sophos online security firm. The initial attack also tried to get a huge number of users to click on the blogger's Twitter, Facebook and other sites in an attempt to bring them down.

About an hour later, with the blogger sites still operational, the hackers mounted a direct massive attack on the sites. There was such a huge amount of "collateral damage" from the attack, said Beth Jones of Sophos, that Twitter crashed and Facebook's operation was compromised.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in London, the blogger -- who declined to give his real name -- identified himself as a 34-year-old economics lecturer. He said he believes the attack was an attempt to silence his criticism of Russia's conduct toward Georgia.

"Maybe it was carried out by ordinary hackers," he told the newspaper, "but I'm certain the order came from the Russian government."

-- David Colker

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