Thursday, December 09, 2010

WORLD - WikiLeaks Battle Goes Cyber

"WikiLeaks Finds Itself Target of, Inspiration for Cyber Attacks" PBS Newshour Transcript 12/8/2010 (includes video)


GWEN IFILL (Newshour): Next: WikiLeaks and the cyber-attacks surrounding it.

Last night, we looked at the legal challenges ahead for the Web site and its founder, Julian Assange. Since its latest release of confidential government documents, WikiLeaks has also been the target of computer hackers.

Its supporters are striking back, temporarily shutting down MasterCard's Web site and targeting other companies who are severing ties with WikiLeaks.

NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels has our story on the online battle.

SPENCER MICHELS: For months, beginning when it revealed to the world secret U.S. war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, the WikiLeaks organization has been engaged in a global battle to keep its financial and distribution system intact on the Web.

Now, the effort to stop WikiLeaks has redoubled, as the Web site slowly drips out in small daily handfuls some of the 250,000 U.S. State Department cables in its possession, all stemming, allegedly, from computer theft committed by an Army private, Bradley Manning.

WikiLeaks is being bombarded daily by cyber-attacks attempting to shut down its Web sites.

KEVIN POULSEN, senior editor, As they were getting ready to launch the State Department cables, there was what is called a distributed denial of service attack. This is a very common problem on the Internet.


"Vigilantes Take Offensive in WikiLeaks Censorship Battle" by Ryan Singel, 12/8/2010


Internet vigilantes stepped up attacks in support of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, downing Visa’s web site in a widening protest against a handful of companies that banned the secret-spilling site after it began publishing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

The outages, organized by the group Anonymous under the banner “Operation Payback,” have taken the battle between WikiLeaks supporters and opponents over web censorship to the streets, so to speak, sparking a series of tit-for-tat retaliations that appeared to be growing at the time this article was posted.

At stake is not just the future of WikiLeaks, the protesters seem to believe, but freedom on the net in general — a principle worth defending by any means possible, however dubious.

“There are people that want to send a message that the Internet is a sovereign territory,” according to Barrett Lyon, CEO of 3Crowd and one of the early pioneers in fighting DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks from 2000 to 2006.

Online speech and corporate attempts to control it have sparked firefights before, but the naked control of commercial service providers over WikiLeaks’ cash flow and internet presence has sparked an unprecedented reaction that may not be easily brought to heel.

An Anonymous member or sympathizer wrote to to announce the attacks, passing along this statement from the chat channel being used to organize the attack:

We are the clear logic used to unveil wrongdoing. The general public, clouded by misleading information mostly by the media with a political agenda, fails to see and understand this wrongdoing. Because of this, those who do the wrongdoing escape unpunished. Anonymous is here to ensure punishment does not go unserved to those who deserve it.

In an interview, Lyon called the attacks historic in how well-organized the attackers are, estimating as many as 5,000 people may be involved and noting that the organizing site includes an FAQ, a propaganda operation and a radio station.


"A Selection From the Cache of Diplomatic Dispatches" New York Times

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