Georgian professor sparks global cyberattack

Hundreds of millions of users couldn’t access Twitter, Facebook and blogging platforms

According to The New York Times, last week’s cyberattacks on Twitter, Facebook and other online services may have disrupted hundreds of millions of Internet users, but their main target was a 34-year-old economics professor from the republic of Georgia.

The “assault,” says the Times, was the latest eruption in a yearlong skirmish between nationalistic (and anonymous) hackers in Russia and Georgia. They sent millions of spam e-mail messages, particularly targeting Twitter and Facebook, in an attempt to block the professor’s web pages, where he was writing about events that led to last year’s territorial war between the two Eastern European countries.

The blogger, who is a refugee from the disputed Abkhazia region, writes under the name Cyxymu but identified himself as Giorgi in an interview with the Times. He says he teaches at Sukhumi State University. Last Thursday, he said he noticed that his blogging platform LiveJourna, along with Facebook and Twitter, weren’t working.

Giorgi says his online pages provided a place for refugees from Abkhazia to exchange memories of their home. This week, he posted day-by-day accounts of the run-up to the conflict, drawing partly on posts from his readers inside of Abkhazia. He says they were describing how the Russian army staged its forces in the region in early August 2008.

“I feel a bit ashamed for the people who lost service because my blog was blocked,” says the professor.

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