Here's the theory that was thrown at the wall and seems to have stuck: According to an account first published in Cnet, Facebook top security dog Mark Max Kelly says the entire fiasco was a coordinated attack aimed at silencing one person from the Republic of Georgia who goes by the handle "Cyxymu," after the Georgian city with the same vowel-challenged name.
Sophos security wonk Graham Cluely gives more heft to this idea, noting that today is the first anniversary of Georgian troops moving into South Ossetia, which triggered a brief and disastrous war with Russia.
The New York Times quotes Bill Woodcock of the Packet Clearing House, who says the packet storm originated from IP addresses in Abkhazia, a disputed territory between Russia and Georgia. He attributes the cause to spam, not a botnet.
So Cyxymu clearly ticked off the wrong Russians. We got that. But 30 million users taken offline, security teams at Twitter, Facebook, and Live Journal scrambling to fend off the attack, all just to get one guy? That's the really chilling part.
The other big story that emerges from this is how dependent many of us have become on social media. It's not just folks who live or die by their favorite celebrity tweets. (FYI, Paris Hilton spent yesterday at the beach, where she collected "many beautiful shells," while Paula Abdul continues to shower in "the undying support and enormous love" of her fans. Now you're all caught up.)
Hundreds of startups are entirely dependent on Facebook and Twitter. As Fast Company's Chris Dannen writes:
If you think the combined stuttering of Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal this morning...were rough for you, well, try dipping into the shoes of the developers who make software based on Facebook and Twitter APIs. Sure, you missed all of Ashton and Demi's tweets for a few hours. But for devs, the two goliath social networking services are their livelihoods. And what's surprising is how Facebook and Twitter left them completely in the dark.