Russia: DDoS Attack On LiveJournal Has Russians Debating Internet Politics

On March 30, 2011, the blogging platform LiveJournal experienced serious functionality problems [ru] for over 12 hours due to a powerful Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack (the attack resumed on April 4 and 5, 2011).

The most popular blogging platform in Russia was only fully functional around midnight on the 30 March.

The head of Russian LiveJournal, Svetlana Ivanikova, issued a statement saying the attack “was definitely of a different sort from those suffered by LiveJournal previously” and that “this was the first attack of such strength in the history of LiveJournal.”

On March 30 Russia's most blogging site, Live Journal, was the subjected of the strongest DDoS attack to date. Screenshot of LiveJournal main page.

On March 30 Russia's most blogging site, Live Journal, was the subjected of the strongest DDoS attack to date. Screenshot of LiveJournal main page.

Conspiracy theories

While it is still unknown who was behind the attack, once the server was up and running again, the Russian Internet buzzed with conspiracy theories over who could have planned the attack and which blogs were the main target.

Many bloggers were quick to suggests that the attack may have been targeted at blogger Navalny [ru] who has been the recent epicenter of curiosity regarding his on-going exposé of numerous corruption cases, the most controversial one being within Transneft, a state-owned company that owns and operates Russia’s oil pipelines.

Blogger nafanko pegged [ru] the government for the attack:

Пока Навальный не исчезнет из ЖЖ, они продолжатся. Это политическая мотивация.

As long as Navalny doesn’t leave LJ [LiveJournal], they will continue. [The attack] was politically motivated.

While dimk_dims seemed [ru] to blame the attack on Navalny’s political blogging:

из-за одного революционера миллион хомячков остался без уютной жж-шки на сутки. маладцы, чо.

Because of one revolutionary a million of Internet hamsters [a pejorative name for Internet commenters – GV] were deprived of [their] dear LJ for a day. Well done, man.

Blogger Yuri Pronko claimed [ru] in fiery language that the attack on LJ was an attack by the Russian government on “on freedom of speech in Russia”:

Все должно быть в рамках закона! LiveJournal позволяет это делать, атака на ведущий дискуссионный интернет-ресурс показывает только одно: ЖЖ боятся, но на законных, правовых условиях вести разговоры не готовы.

Всем должно быть понятно, атака на ЖЖ – это атака на демократию и свободу слова в России!

Everything should be within the framework of the law. LiveJournal allows for that, and therefore, the attack on a website that leads an active discussion means one thing: they fear LJ, and are not ready to debate within lawful, legal grounds.

It should be clear to everyone: an attack on LJ is an attack on democracy and freedom of speech in Russia!

Other users wondered whether such attacks would become more frequent in the future, and some commenters and bloggers suggested that maybe it was time to switch to another format.

Blogger cadu3m [ru]:



And grazdano4ka [ru]:

Ценные записи, пожалуй, стоит скопировать себе на жесткий диск.
Ну или завести аккаунт где-нибудь на другом блоггерском сайте и туда просто тупо копировать все, что пишется здесь.

Important entries should probably be copied onto your hard drive.
Or you should move your account somewhere else, to another blogging site.

Blogger usoft [ru], seemingly poked fun at both blogger Navanly and Live Journal:

Давайте скинемся Навальному (или еще там кому) на отдельностоящий сайт, пусть перестанет сидеть в нашей уютной жежешечке =)

Let’s all chip in and pay Navalny (or someone else) to set up a independent site. Let’s stop just hanging out at comfortable LJ.

Anton Nosik [ru], well-known Russian IT-entrepreneur and one of the main LiveJournal evangelists, suggested that maybe the DDoS attack along with an article in the newspaper Argumety i Fakty [ru], which advised Russian LiveJournal users to move to a new platform, could all be a giant orchestration by the government to disband the platform's community:

[…] в тексте не приводится ни одного серьёзного сравнения функционала ЖЖ с теми платформами, куда народ агитируют сваливать. В реальности основной результат ухода русскязычного блоггера из ЖЖ — потеря связи с читателями, для которых эта среда привычна. А в случае, если исход интересных авторов из ЖЖ действительно начнётся, для РУНЕТа это будет означать потерю важнейшей независимой медиа-площадки. Которой, видимо, в предвыборный год по-настоящему испугались грязные технологи на службе Вертикали.

The article does not even list one actual comparison of the functions of LJ versus those of the other platforms where people are allegedly running. In reality, the main result of the exodus of Russian-speaking bloggers from LiveJournal will be the lose of contact with readers for whom this platform is standard. And in that case, if the exodus of interesting bloggers from LJ actually begins, it will mean for RuNet the lose of an important independent media-platform, which in this coming election year, obviously scares the filthy technologies used by the Power Vertical.

In the comments below his post, LJ bloggers debated. Webchillout wrote [ru]:

Из жж нужно бежать просто потому что этот сервис говно. Он тормозной, с ублюдочными древовидными комментариями, с засильем ботом. Все нормальные люди уже постят в фэйсбуке, а на жж клоаку просто репост делают.

We should flee from LJ simply because this service is shit. It freezes, with idiotic trees of comments, dominated by bots [fake accounts used to spoil discussion – see related Global Voices article]. All normal people already post on Facebook and on LJ they only repost junk.

Later Webchillout argued [ru]:

Антон, мне кажется наивным валить отдельно взятое ЖЖ.
Если, к примеру, тому же Навальному захочется распространить “компромат” — он это сможет сделать одним твитом со ссылкой на какой-нибудь закардонный хост (blogger к примеру).
И “разнесут” это все по твиттеру-фейсбуку-и другим интернетам моментально. И будет даже эффективнее.

Не надо превращать ЖЖ в панацею. Это просто инструмент. Сегодня один — завтра другой.

Anton, it seems naive to me to specifically attack LJ. If, for example, Navalny wants to spread his “incriminating evidence,” he can do it in one tweet with a link to some other privately hosted site (blogger for example).
And it will be spread by every one via Twitter-Facebook-and other networks in a second. And it would be even more effective.

You don’t need to make LJ into a panacea. It is simply an instrument. Today there one type – tomorrow another.

Ilya Dronov, LiveJournal's head of development and LJ blogger, has posted [ru] lots of helpful material on how LJ users should save and protect their blogs, assuring that in all likelihood, no information was lost while the site was down. However, he warned:

Скорее всего, подобные ситуации будут повторяться в будущем

Most likely, a similar type of situation will be repeated in the future.
This post was re-published in Russian by the Ezhednevniy Zhurnal (Daily Journal) as part of a content partnership with Global Voices’ RuNet Echo.


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