Today I was thinking about what is referred to as the “digg effect” and how awesome it would be if my blog finally made that jump to the digg homepage. Like most people who have came close to making the front page of dig know, as some point fear takes over. “Will I run out of bandwidth, Will my host turn off my account?” Then for some reason I recalled an article I recently read about Denial of Service Attacks, and how your server can be crashed by hackers utilizing these attacks. Where this gets interesting though, is when you think about how a web server could be attacked at the same time that an article of page is pushed to the front of dig or a similar social bookmarking site.
The Scary Scenario
(I know that by writing this article I may be empowering someone to go out there and give this a try, however I feel it is worth writing in the context of the article.)
Think about the possibility of a group of very organized hackers selecting a page on a website and then all digging it in a very systematic fashion that would allow it to make the front page of digg. They could possibly attempt to manipulate another social bookmarking site at the same time and drive even more traffic. Web professionals already worry that their servers cannot handle the load of digg alone, however when it is coupled with the traffic of other similar sites the results could be devastating. At the very least the site will have to spend hundreds of dollars to either move to another server or in premiums for all the extra bandwidth.
Why Should We Care?
For discussions sake I feel that it is an interesting idea. Something that was designed to share knowledge and benefit a websites creator has grown so big that its sheer mass can be manipulated for wrong doing.
Basically, with great power comes great responsibility. We as designers, developers, and programmers develop applications and communities that if not properly planned and monitored could become tools for those who wish to do wrong. While we could try to pass the blame to these wrongdoing users themselves, the truth is that we build these tools and with that comes the responsibility to keep them from becoming new age weapons.
So what is you opinion, do you have a situation you can share where something you developed became the victim of abuse by nefarious users?