Archive for August, 2009

Twitter Hacker Attack

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Yesterday, the popular social networking site, Twitter was temporarily offline as a result of a malicious attack from hackers. Apparently, the downtime was the result of a “denial of service” attack. These are generally the result of a virus that spreads to thousands of computers before simultaneously attempting to log-in to a site via the infected computers. So many simultaneous log-in attempts cause the website servers to be overwhelmed and crash, bringing the site offline.

What is worrying about denial of service attacks is the ease by which they can be created. As far as computer viruses go, they are fairly simple, yet they are powerful enough to bring down big sites such as Twitter. In theory, a denial of service attack could be carried out without even using a virus. It is possible to carry them out with a large group of people and some good timing - in much the same way as flash mobs are created.

Over the past year, there has been a huge rise in malicious attacks towards social networking sites, especially towards FaceBook. Unfortunately, such attacks are inevitable for sites with such high profiles. One good side effect to these attacks is that they often expose weaknesses that are later patched, making the sites much more resilient in the long run.