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Is the Russian Government Behind Recent Denial of Service Attacks on Social Media?

The blogging and social networking site LiveJournal has been the focus of repeated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks over recent days and weeks. DDoS attacks use thousands of computers to flood a website’s servers with requests. The goal is to so overload bandwidth that the site crashes and becomes unavailable to legitimate users.

LiveJournal, originally based in San Francisco, was sold to the Russian online media company SUP in December of 2007. Some 4 million Russian-language users currently rely on the Cyrillic segment of LiveJournal’s service. LiveJournal has become a popular medium for Russian political activists to organize and share criticism of the state. Russian bloggers argue that the attacks, which knocked LiveJournal completely offline for hours, were aimed squarely at activists such as Aleksei Navalny. Navalny attributes the attacks to a Kremlin “counter-propaganda plan” in preparation for upcoming elections.

The DDoS attacks started on March 24, caused a brief outage on March 30, and reached their peak on April 4. Suspicions of government involvement are based on the specific journals initially targeted, the enormous resources required to mount an attack of such magnitude, and the recent history of the Russian government allegedly mounting DDoS attacks against the Estonian and Georgian governments. In particular, fingers have been pointed at a Kremlin youth group called “Nashi.”

Ilya Dronov, development director with SUP, has posted comments on the attack to his own LiveJournal blog. Dronov speculates that the purpose of the attacks was to drive critics of the government away from LiveJournal. Depriving the Russian blogosphere of a unifying platform would leave individual users far more vulnerable. He expects that the attacks will continue.

While the attacks may have been aimed at Russian activists, all blogs on LiveJournal have been affected, including that of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. President Medvedev called the attacks outrageous and illegal, and urged law enforcement to look into the matter. Russia’s Public Chamber has released similar statements. The Kremlin has not issued any official statements, though a Nashi spokesperson has called accusations of government involvement “groundless.”

LiveJournal, whose servers are located in the U.S., has been fighting back hard. Additional equipment purchases are planned, and the issue may be referred to U.S. law enforcement. Svetlana Ivannikov, who heads LiveJournal Russia, released a statement indicating that the company hasn’t excluded legal actions in response to the attacks. No specific individuals were named as potential targets of any possible lawsuits. Relatively, spreading fake news is a big no. Hence, if you want to make a stand and prevent or fight fake news, you can get free ig followers and establish your profile and use it for the greater good.

While disrupting the activities of Russian political activists may have been the goal of these DDoS attacks, LiveJournal blogs have been affected all over the world. It remains to be seen if non-Russian bloggers will choose to take their fandom, personal, hobby, or political blogs elsewhere to avoid future disruption. Or maybe they’ll be galvanized in solidarity. Russian bloggers, for their part, say they’re not going anywhere.

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