Hactivists Claim They Took Twitter Down, but Twitter Denies It

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-06-21 Print this article Print

UPDATED: A spokeswoman for San Francisco-based company confirmed that its service was unavailable to many users for intermittent time periods; a hacktivist group claims responsibility, but Twitter denied it, saying it was due to "a cascaded bug in one of our infrastructure components."

Microblogging social network Twitter suffered a debilitating denial-of-service attack June 21, beginning at 9:09 a.m. PST and rendering the site inaccessible for intermittent periods for several hours.

The site came back up at around 10:06 a.m. PST and then went down for various spans of time after that. An administrator posted the following message and kept it up on its status.twitter.com site: "Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue."

eWEEK received a message from Twitter spokesman Robert Weeks at 1:30 p.m. PT, stating: "@TwitterComms: Today's outage is due to a cascaded bug in one of our infrastructure components. We'll provide updated information soon."

Hacktivists, However, Take Credit

During the outages, eWEEK was contacted via email by a person using the alias "Cosmo lol," who claimed to be a member of the UGNazi hacktivist group.

"Cosmo lol" took credit for taking down Twitter and, when asked why, emailed: "Just to show what we really are capable of."

When asked for proof of the deed, "Cosmo lol" emailed: "I can follow you on @CosmoTheGod and @UG for proof." There were lively discussions on those two Twitter threads immediately after the site came back into action.

After Twitter emailed eWEEK about the "cascaded bug" problem, "Cosmo lol" emailed eWEEK with this response: "They moved to multiple servers in the past couple hours trying to migrate our attack, there (sic) is no bug in there (sic) system.'"

This was supposed to be a big day for Twitter. The company announced that it plans to expand its "promoted tweets" ad platform to 50 countries by the end of the year.

"I'm extremely humbled by how quick and broadly Twitter has taken off and how we've done building something independent and timeless. This is a company that will last," The Hollywood Reporter quoted Twitter founder Jack Dorsey at a press conference in Cannes, France. 

Other Issues in Recent Weeks

Twitter has experienced other backend issues lately. The previous day, June 20, the network reported some other issues involving email deliveries, posting the following message: "Some users may experience a delay receiving signup confirmation and password reset emails. Our engineers are working to resolve this issue. Update: this issue has been resolved."

Two weeks ago, the site experienced issues with uploading photos. That problem, too, was solved relatively quickly.

Twitter is considered the next big IT company to be a legitimate candidate for an initial public offering. In recent months, company executives have emphasized the reliability of its service, which had been subject to more frequent outages in its early days but which has been down only infrequently in recent years.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include information about the hacker's claims and Twitter's response.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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