Though Facebook and Twitter service seems to be up and running after the two social sites struggled with a denial-of-service attack yesterday, the battle isn't over yet.
Social media's struggle with this kind of attack gives us a hint of just how fragile these systems are, and just how easily they can be taken down.
This of course raises questions about users security on the site. Facebook and Twitter say that nothing was compromised, but if hackers can shut down the entire system, is anything private or safe?
The media's overwhelming response also gives us a hint of just how obsessed and addicted we are to these services. What better indication of what a crucial role Twitter and Facebook play in people's lives than the outcry when service was down for just a few hours.
A "denial of service" attack is when hackers flood websites with traffic to make them inaccessible. Facebook, Twitter, and Google worked together to figure out what happened. Facebook tells me they're now working with "the authorities" to get to the bottom of this and to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Late yesterday Facebook revealed that the attack was probably political in nature. It targeted a specific blogger who advocates for the Republic of Georgia, whose profile is named "Cysymu," a Georgian town, but instead of just taking down his Twitter and Facebook service it shut or slowed down the entire system.
Twitter's service continued to be slow Friday, not because of another attack, but because of Twitter's response.
Twitter co-founder sent me the following in an e-mail:
The attacks have continued in their intensity and changed in their nature over the past 24 hours and we're working this morning to restore access to applications built on the Twitter platform. We overcompensated in our defensive measures last night as we tune our system to handle this scale of attack going forward.
Regarding insights into the attack, they appear to be geopolitical in motivation. However, we don't feel it's appropriate to engage in speculative discussion about these motivations. The open exchange of information can have a positive impact globally and our job is to keep Twitter services running reliably to the best of our ability.
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