Earlier this week, a distributed denial-of-service ttack caused Twitter and Facebook to experience an extended period of downtime. Both social media services are still dealing with traffic surges that were related to the DDoS attack. With Twitter being down, it caused a Domino effect by causing other applications to no longer work such as TweetDeck and Tweetmeme. Currently it seems like all systems are back online.
How and why did this event take place? There is evidence that suggests that there was a political reason. The attack was directly aimed at an account of a Georgian activist. The intended victim of the DDoS attack was Twitter user Cyxymu. Cyxymu uses Facebook and Twitter to push his political agenda.
To mitigate the risk of additional downtime, Twitter and Facebook had to isolate the source of the traffic surges and drop incoming data packets from that source. The problem is that it is difficult to isolate the source because the incoming packets may be coming from hundreds or thousands of sources.
Regardless Twitter and Facebook acted upon the hack attack quickly. Even though there was a tremendous amount of user frustration, the services quickly became available again. Considering how much the media covered a couple of social media websites being down for 2 hours, it further proves how dependent we are on online social services.