Twitter hacked – not the end of the world, no surprise, and a badge of honour.

There’s a scene in the movie ‘Blazing Saddles’ where the Waco Kid, being asked why he’s ended up in prison for drunkenness, bewails the fact that when he was the well known gun-slinger everyone wanted to try and get him, so they could be the new number one.  He tells how he eventually hung up his guns when he heard a voice yelling ‘Draw’, turned around to fight, and nearly shot a 5 year old child.

He turns his back on the little brat, who then shoots the Waco Kid in the ass…..

Life in the online world gets like that, too.

Apparently Twitter was hacked last night by an outfit called the Iranian Cyber Army.  The story broke on the Mashable web site – I have to say that were I not receiving Tweets from Mashable I wouldn’t have known, as I’ve been getting (I think) Tweeted over the period of the hack and I can quite happily see their home page.  The fact that this is now being reported as a DNS based attack means that it wasn’t so much Twitter that was walloped as that traffic to Twitter was diverted elsewhere for a while …

Anyway, let’s face it – this is a slap in the face to Twitter (indirectly) but isn’t the end of the world.  At least some of us – if not most of us who’re not using the DNS system that was compromised – are still Tweeting  and the world will not slide to DEFCON1 because the global inanity stream was temporarily interrupted for the Digerati.

But, assuming these chaps ARE who they claim to be –  a group with Iranian sympathies – we shouldn’t be surprised.  A campaign was organised through Twitter earlier this year to protest about the clamp down on civil rights in Iran.  This attack may be regarded by the originators as ‘payback’ and goes to show that in Cyberspace, as in the real world, ‘people power’ is not a one way street.  The big boys do sometimes have their day of successful protest as well.  Governments can quite easily learn the fine arts of online civil disobedience, and do it with greater ease than the folks running the protest.

When people use a site as a base or launching ground for civil disobedience, campaigning or protest then it will become a target for those who object to the issues being promoted.  That kickback may come in the form of debate, negative campaigning against the site, abuse of people on the site, legal efforts to remove or silence the site, or, as here, technical efforts to remove the site.  Which means that more and more sites used by people to organise campaigns will either have to become ‘hardened’ to protect against attack or stop carrying legitimate material that someone, somewhere, is pissed enough about to want it removed.

We may be heading in to a period of ‘big boy’s rules’ in cyberspace where sites that permit the exposition of people power are simply taken down by this sort of online activity.  But if that happens to your favourite site, and the cause is just, don’t be sad; regard it as a badge of honour that your activities have upset someone enough to want to take you down.

Remember the words of Winston Churchill ‘ ‘You have enemies; that’s good – it means that you have stood up for something sometime in your life’.

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