by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
cyberattack, cyxymu, streisand effect

facebook, twitter

Cyberattack That Brought Down Twitter & Facebook Only Highlighted The Guy It Hoped To Silence

from the whoops dept

Ajit Jaokar alerts us to the fact that last week's "cyberattack" seems to have given a much greater voice to a guy the attacks were designed to silence. If you haven't been paying attention, late last week, there were huge denial of service attacks on Twitter and Facebook, which knocked out both sites for a period of time. Apparently, the attacks were an attempt to silence an economics professor in the republic of Georgia, who online has gone by the name cyxymu. Jaokar noticed that cyxymu had very few followers on his Twitter account, but since the news has come out that he was the target of the attack, thousands of new followers have started paying attention to him. So whoever ran the attacks (cyxymu blames the KGB), which sought to first discredit cyxymu and then take him offline, seems to have only done the opposite. They've suddenly given him the world's attention.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2009 @ 7:26pm

    I remember learning in schools that when African Americans had their movements (to resist discrimination) suppressed by mainstream television and newspapers often times it simply publicized the movement instead (which is good). However, ignoring the Internet and the last twenty years, those that try to suppress information have learned to take into account the possibility that trying to suppress ideas from mainstream media outlets may only publicize them more and they factor that into their plans to suppress such information. Also, the mainstream media has turned into a much more top down structure since then and that has also made it far easier to suppress information. It is the emergence of a new technology, the Internet, that has overcome attempts to censor information because those that try to suppress information are unaware of the ways that the Internet may further publicize it. However, just like with mainstream media, if the structure of the Internet changes or if those that try to censor information start taking into consideration how their attempts may publicize it they may unfortunately, in the future, become more successful at suppressing such information. This is also one reason why we have to ensure that the information structure of the Internet does not change into the top down structure that our mainstream media has turned into (ie: partly thanks to the fact that cable companies are given a government granted monopoly over cable infrastructure).

    Another thing one must consider is the possibility that monitoring tools might be used by ISP's to sniff out information that people attempt to censor and block the distribution of it before hand (and if it's done at the ISP level it will also apply to P2P networks, e - Mails, blogs, etc...). Of course the social ramifications of this are complicated (ie: the person might try to spread the word organically via word of mouth but that maybe difficult, but it may also anger a lot of people. Who knows how that would work). One can argue that encryption might be a possibility, but not in a world where government and such are trying to ban the use of encryption. As such sniffing software becomes more sophisticated who knows where the future might lead. Then again, software that tries to circumvent information censorship might also become more sophisticated just as well so it might turn into a game of cat and mouse. Who knows what the future holds for the Internet but lets just hope it doesn't turn into the nonsense that mainstream media has turned into.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Give them a few weeks, and they will all disappear. He is just the internet celeb of the week. They will all be back to following Mark Cuban and Lindsay Lohan again soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2009 @ 7:53pm

    They need to get Prolexic

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Digital Protector (profile), 10 Aug 2009 @ 8:13pm

    It's not the number of hacks, as much as the publicity they've been getting of late. In the 90's, hacks were all about putting up a splash letting everyone know what had happened; in recent years, however, most hackers have been far more subtle. Part of the upswing in reported incidents is likely due to the anti-sec movement and its supporters hacking anything in sight, and part of it is simply that certain governments have gotten around to using the net to do what they would have done a decade ago with a knock on the door from the national police.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2009 @ 8:34pm


    and if the future of the Internet turns into what mainstream media has turned into (or what it would be today without the Internet) then lets hope that some new technology comes out that would prevent the censorship of information in previously unplanned for ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Fuel to the Fire

    Streisand Strikes Again!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Nate (profile), 10 Aug 2009 @ 10:12pm

    smacks of a hoax

    this story almost seems fake. this article was written by the NY times are we sure that they didn't just regurgitate the first hot lead that was whispered in their ear?

    I just think this sounds like that kid who planted false info on Wikipedia about some dead French guy and nobody stopped to check any facts about it before writing his obituary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    zub, 10 Aug 2009 @ 11:58pm

    If you're paranoid enough...

    it could be the goal all along. Then it wouldn't be "haters" but "supporters" who organized this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 5:55am

    2 days later, I bet most people don't even know his name anymore.

    15 minutes is done, next.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Matt Katz, 11 Aug 2009 @ 7:37am

    I think this incident points out how silly it is to be on a centralized service like twitter.’twitter’-network-could-fend-off-the-next-twi tpocalypse/ (disclaimer: I'm quoted in the article, and really proud of it.)

    The solution to these DDOS attacks is distributed delivery of service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Fushta, 11 Aug 2009 @ 9:31am

    Don't Silence Information, Spread Disinformation

    Instead of trying to silence someone, which didn't work in this case, then just spread disinformation about the person in the media. Plant information on their computer, and then expose them. They would be discredited without having the Streisand Effect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Aug 2009 @ 2:02pm


    If you want to start a new service so that people can use it instead of twitter (with open platform and everything), fine, but I suspect that getting the government to intervene will only help turn the Internet into what the mainstream media has turned into. I think we should just leave the government out, they only manage to screw things up. It's not like Twitter faces a DDOS every day, and to the extent that they do, and to the extent that it's needed, then people will naturally find other networks to replace them during down times. But we shouldn't force something upon the free market that people don't naturally demand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Aug 2009 @ 8:23am


    Also, one thing about this notion of distributed delivery of service is that it may tend to add information borders to information making it more difficult for information to spread. Think of napster, the reason it was so successful and useful is because it provided a single server for everyone to communicate on hence removing information borders of who has what song.

    A solution could be to allow the different servers to communicate with each other, kinda like IRC (ie: Efnet) where you have a bunch of people connect to different servers and they talk to their local server and their local server distributes the information to various other servers which then distributes it to all the users on each server.

    But I don't think government interventions is necessary, any time the government gets involved all they EVER do (and I can provide example after example. Intellectual property that practically lasts forever, taxi cab medallions that add artificial scarcity to the process for no good reason, a corrupt FDA that takes away our health freedoms and plays corporate favoritism not based on product safety and effectiveness, but based on politics; an FCC that looks into the stupid RIAA's case over some high school that boycotted signed artists for one month two years ago, the fact that the government pays for most telecommunication infrastructure and yet they grant monopolies to special interest groups like cable and phone companies, the government funds a substantial amount of pharmaceutical R&D yet they grant economically unregulated monopolies (patents) to pharma corporations, the list goes ON AND ON AND ON AND ON, these thugs can't be trusted) is serve private interests at public expense. They can't be trusted and hence they should be left out of the equation because they will only make things worse. I don't mind having one centralized system, like twitter, because it provides broader faster communication, and then having a bunch of backup systems that people can go to in case twitter falls. However, to the extent that such backups are necessary the free market will naturally provide for them without our untrustworthy parasitic government getting involved because all they will do is find ways to server private interests at public expenses because that's all they have EVER done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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