Controversial whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has been repeatedly in the news as of late. It’s founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange is the subject of a criminal probe, and is seeking asylum in Ecuador. Mr. Assange is attempting to avoid extradition over allegations of rape and assault, both he vehemently denies. Back in the news again, WikiLeaks, the victim of a cyber-attack, is finally back online after more than a week of disruption.
WikiLeaks, a site known for anonymously publishing documents that leak secret information and thought to have published over 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, was a victim of a week long DDoS attack. A DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack is one of the most aggressive peer-to-peer cyber-attacks around today. It’s a common method of sending a high volume permeation of incessant requests for outside communication to the target. When multiple compromised systems inundate the resources or bandwidth of a targeted system, DDoS happens. It denies service to the legitimate users of the targeted system, forcing it to shut down.
After over a week WikiLeaks has rebounded from the attack and is online again. AntiLeaks an anonymous group of computer hackers claimed responsibility for the nine-day attack. Claiming that WikiLeaks is a terrorist organization, AntiLeaks has said that the attacks will continue and widen. Someone claiming to be head of AntiLeaks said that the attacks were in protest over the impending decision by Ecuador to presumably grant Assange asylum. Antileaks claim to be a group of young adults who are United States citizens. Antileaks believe that Assange is leading a new brand of terrorists.
There have also been reports that the attacks were an attempt to halt the most recent WikiLeaks release of emails from hacked global intelligence firm Strafor, regarding anti-terrorist software produced by a company called TrapWire. According to leaked documents, TrapWire is discussed in numerous emails from Strafor. The emails were captured by hackers associated with the international collective of hactivists knows as Anonymous.
The TrapWire software is reportedly a unique, predictive system designed to detect patterns of logistical planning and pre-attack by terrorists and criminals. Former members of the United States Central Intelligence Agency founded TrapWire, but in the wake of the document release, the page outlining the link to the CIA was recently removed.
Release of the stolen documents sparked major worldwide concern about how data, which is meant to prevent terrorist from planning attacks, is being used by the U.S Government to secretly spy on civilians. “Trapwire is a comprehensive, secret, U.S. surveillance effort,” stated PC Magazine.
TrapWire denies these allegations. Its marketing materials say that it uses observations by security guards and video cameras to develop a multiple point description of people near a potential terrorist target. John Starlet who studies at the American Civil Liberties Union states that many companies try to use technology to find terrorists plots in a sea of information about ordinary, everyday activities.
WikiLeaks has since switched over to CloudFlare. It’s web engineers and web page builder response in making sure that the site was back up as soon as possible had Assange immediately posting a taunting message basically touting WikilLeaks survival and plans to continue to operate as it has.