Thursday, August 6, 2009
Cyber attack on Twitter, Facebook was much ado about little
Sure, it was annoying to be kept off the Twitter microblogging site for hours on Thursday. But unless it was your responsibility to keep Twitter and at least two other social networking sites -- Facebook and LiveJournal -- free from so-called Denial of Service attacks, you weren't harmed in any way. So why all the outage outrage? According to the Cable News Network CNN), some users of the social networking sites reacted with "near-panic" to being unable to use the services. Such sites have proved themselves extremely valuable for promoting businesses and causes, and for finding and keeping in touch with long-lost and newfound friends, but what explains the odd reaction or, rather, overreaction? Okay, this probably was the first time most Internet users have dealt with such an attack on a site they use, but this is part of the new world of the Web. Everyone tries to protect their computers from being compromised cyberthreats that were unknown a decade ago; even Twitter, the target of the attack, understood that this was part the risks inherent to such enterprises. "Attacks such as this are malicious efforts orchestrated to disrupt and make unavailable services such as online banks, credit card payment gateways, and in this case, Twitter for intended customers or users," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told CNN in an e-mail. "We are defending against this attack now and will continue to update our status blog as we defend and later investigate." That's right. It's part of the business, and hunting down the perpetrators is part of that, too. No surprise, no panic. Computer users should remember that the ubiquitous Internet is a relatively recent phenomenon and that there were plenty of things to do before social networking, and still are. The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team told CNN that it is impossible to fully prevent such attacks but said computer users should keep their antivirus software updated and their firewalls properly maintained.