It’s a little difficult to figure out this one out, because there’s so much more not known than known. What is clear is that Twitter, again, has been the victim of a cyber attack. What is unclear is whether the attack was the work of a single, attention-grabbing person, or a politically motivated group striking out at Twitter because of the way it is used by political opponents. What also seems clear is that Twitter, if it plans to keep a prominent role in social networking, is going to have to do a better job protecting itself when targeted.
Thursday night, according to the Twitter Blog page, Twitter suffered an attack on its DNS records. Twitter itself wasn’t hacked or compromised, but the Internet routing used to pull up Twitter was tweaked to redirect Twitter users to another web site, where the perpetrators, the Iranian Cyber Army, proudly proclaimed “THIS SITE HAS BEEN HACKED...” In addition, Google searches for Twitter returned a similar message for the twitter.com site.
A few things suggest a political motivation for the DNS re-routing. First, a grammatically bizarre message on the Iranian Cyber Army’s page: “U.S.A. Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By Their Access, But THey Don’t, We Control And Manage Internet By Our Power, So Do Not Try To Stimulation Iranian Peoples To….” Second, Twitter’s role in a DoS attack on web sites of supporters of the Iranian government. And third, the simultaneous attack on an Iranian opposition web site, mowjcamp.org (where the hacked notice still appears).
Graham Cluley, at Sophos, makes note of the political motivation, but writes: “Of course, just because a message...has been posted on a webpage does not necessarily mean that hackers from Iran are responsible for the defacement.”
Regardless of the motivation for the attack, some, such as Ben Parr at Mashable, are none too pleased with Twitter’s security measures, especially in light of some current kerfuffles. Parr writes: “This is unacceptable for one of the world’s top 20 most-visited websites. There needs to be accountability for this situation (no matter if it’s within Twitter or within a third party), and a more detailed explanation is warranted. Twitter also needs to find a way to assure that this never happens again.”