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Cyber attack makes anti-Russia blogger a star

'I am not happy . . . but it is good that I get famous,' Georgian Cyxymu says of the onslaught that brought down Twitter and crippled Facebook and other online services.

August 11, 2009|David Colker

The massive cyber attack last week that security experts said was aimed at silencing a single blogger in the country of Georgia instead made him a global celebrity.

Cyxymu, as he is known on his mostly anti-Russia blog, has been the subject of news reports worldwide ever since he was identified as the target of the attack that took down Twitter for hours and crippled other popular online services.

"I am not happy that [my] blogs were attacked," said the blogger, speaking on his cellphone from outside the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. "But it is good that I get famous.

"I think Obama knows about me, because he likes Internet news."

The blogger, who said his first name is Giorgy but declined to give his last name, said he had received messages from people in numerous countries who had read his posts on Facebook. Facebook and security officials on Friday identified the blogger as the target of the cyber attacks.

His online handle, Cyxymu, is the Cyrillic spelling of Sukhumi, a city formerly part of Georgia that was heavily damaged during bloody battles in the early 1990s with Russia-backed insurgents.

It was not the first time Giorgy's blogs had been a target. He said an attack last year shut down his blog from October to May. Afterward, he got messages saying that if he continued blogging, there would be more attacks to "stop you second and third time," he said.

The attack that began Thursday around 6 a.m. PDT was so huge -- with a hacker-controlled "botnet," or group of virus-infected computers, overloading his sites with requests -- that it took down Twitter.

Beth Jones of online security company Sophos thinks the disruption of Twitter was accidental "collateral damage."

But Open Society Institute fellow Evgeny Morozov, writing in a Foreign Policy magazine blog, said he believed the damage to Twitter was an intentional demonstration, a flexing of the "attackers' cyber-muscles by revealing the kind of leverage that Cyxymu's detractors have on the Internet's most popular sites."

Giorgy said the attack would not stop him from blogging and said he had adapted before by changing addresses, making his online soapbox a moving target. One of his strategies is to raise funds for a more stable home for his views.

"I want to create a new Internet blog," he said, to be housed on "a server in America."

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david.colker@latimes.com

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