Hactivists Claim They Took Twitter Down, but Twitter Denies It

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 J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...