DDOS Assault: Twitter took 2 days for recovery. Facebook woke up in a day. Why?
In what popular blogs called the United States’ “close-to-collapsing-moment”, Twitter went down for 2 days suffering a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS). Rival Facebook and popular site LiveJournal too suffered a DOS assault the same day (Thursday). While Facebook and LiveJournal only limped throughout the day, Twitter was completely down, displaying an error message when accessed. Even Twitter applications Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Power Twitter etc. remained unusable for a long time.
Facebook and LiveJournal started performing normally the next day (Friday), but Twitter remained latent for most of the users. Though the site’s status blog said that it was taking measures to recover from the assault, recuperation happened only hours later.
Why and How of Twitter Outages
Twitter outages have become notorious stories on the web, ridiculing the site’s technological inability to keep up with its rapid growth. comScore reported recently that Twitter has attracted 44.5 million visitors in June. The user count also keeps growing every day. With more and more businesses warming up to Twitter, such outages prove critical to the service’s growth.
Two reports circulate the web regarding this DDOS attack.
According to Paul Henry, a researcher for Lumension Security, it may have been a new variant of “Koobface” virus which was using both Twitter and Facebook to send invitations to potential victims to visit fake anti-virus pages. Bogus messages circulated on Twitter and Facebook on the Koobface malware may be the cause as Koobface is detected to have used both the sites to increase its payload.
Another story attributes the cause of the attack to a blogger with an account name “Cyxymu” from the Republic of Georgia. Mac Kelly, Chief Security Officer at Facebook said, “It was simultaneous attack across a number of properties targeting him to keep his voice from being heard”. Cyxymu has accounts in all the attacked sites. Though his LiveJournal page was inaccessible, a cached version of his page mentioned about a DDOS attack on his pages in these U.S. based sites. A message in Russian said, “Now its obvious it’s a special attack on me and Georgians”. Kelly reportedly told that the criminals behind the attack should be employing a lot of resources for demanding our infrastructure to generate hundreds of pages a second.
Whatever be the cause of such attacks, Twitter’s cybersecurity has suffered another dent with this recent DDOS assault. It is indeed time for Twitter to take more reliability measures.
For readers: What is a DDOS?
DDOS or distributed denial-of-service attack essentially crushes big Internet sites, flooding the sites’ servers with unwanted Internet traffic. Last month, a DoS attack from North Korea was reported on U.S. Treasury and Federal Trade Commission web sites.