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Twitter, Facebook Attack Target Says Undeterred

12-8-2009

The Georgian blogger targeted by a cyber attack last week that affected millions of Internet users across the world said Wednesday that Russian hackers were to blame, but that he would not be silenced.

The attack last week on the sole blogger took Twitter offline for several hours and caused problems for Facebook and online diary site LiveJournal.

The target of the attack was identified as a Georgian blogger going by the name Cyxymu — Cyrillic spelling of the town Sukhumi, the rebel capital of Georgia’s breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia.

Georgy Jakhaia, the 34-year-old economics professor behind the blog, is a refugee from Sukhumi living in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Jakhaia has become a fierce critic of Russia and last year’s five-day war with Georgia, when Russia crushed a Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia.

The attack on his blog came on the eve of the first anniversary of the war. Jakhaia said he had been receiving threatening letters from Russia.

“It was like a special operation, an organized cyber attack on my site,” he told Reuters.

Jakhaia has called on the Kremlin and Russian security services to investigate.

“No one else but Russia was interested in destroying my site,” he said by telephone.

But Georgy is acutely aware of the media attention surrounding him, and says he hopes to make the most of it.

He said he would not be silenced, and plans to create an English-language blog to reach a wider audience.

“It’s really cool to be at the center of world media interest,” he said. “After all, I have another chance to make some positive PR for Georgia, without even thinking about it.”

Thursday’s denial-of-service attack on Cyxymu overwhelmed Twitter’s servers with communications requests, taking the microblogging platform offline for several hours.

Members of Facebook, the world’s largest Internet social network with more than 250 million active users, saw delays logging in and posting to their online profiles.

Twitter became a key form of communication in Iran amid the protests and clampdown that followed the country’s disputed June elections. Thursday’s attack on a single blogger underscored the vulnerability of fast-growing Internet social networking sites.

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