Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Elizabeth White, Tim Hinds, Jnan Dash, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Security, Open Web, Cloud Expo

Security: Article

Wiki War Breaks Out

Vigilantes acting in support of Assange's rogue site started unleashing a torrent of punishing denial of service attacks

Even before WikiLeaks mastermind Julian Assange got hauled off to Wandsworth Prison in southwest London Tuesday, vigilantes acting in support of his rogue site started unleashing a torrent of punishing denial of service attacks on the financial institutions that turned the spigot off on the donations WikiLeaks needs to survive and pay Assange's legal bills.

That includes PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and the Swiss Post bank.

Amazon.com, which booted WikiLeaks off its cloud last week, was threatened again Thursday but reportedly the new avenging angel lacked the "forces" given Amazon's EC2-style elasticity. The ruffians pushed on to PayPal. Twitter is also a possible target for not allowing WikiLeaks discussions to "trend" to the top of the heap.

The attacks, which WikiLeaks refused neither to "condemn nor applaud" and which the US government is now investigating, brought down the web sites of Visa, MasterCard and the Swiss Post bank PostFinance.

Authorities apparently don't believe WikiLeaks and its leader aren't responsible for the attack and moved Assange to a segregated part of the prison where there is limited computer access, according to the Guardian Thursday.

PostFinance, which has so far suffered the most, was first hit on Monday and was down most of Tuesday preventing depositors from doing online banking; mastercard.com was still impossible to reach Wednesday but its core business was reportedly unaffected. Ditto Visa whose web site crashed Wednesday.

The attacks, however, have continued with reports of interference with MasterCard payment operations and from our own in-house experience with Visa Thursday that appeared to be true.

PayPal, which pulled WikiLeaks' account last Friday, has reportedly been hit too but seemed to bear up aside from some difficulties with its blog and Thursday with its web site.

The web site of the Swedish prosecutor's office, which is pressing the sex crimes case against Assange, was down Tuesday into Wednesday and then the web site and e-mail system of the law firm for the two Swedish women who brought the complaint were attacked.

So too Sarah Palin's web site and US Senator Joe Lieberman's, both outspoken WikiLeaks critics. At press time, the US Senate web site was a target.

Oddly enough the web site of the hysterically liberal Democratic senator from California Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and suddenly finds herself in Lieberman's company, is so far untouched. Guess the mob doesn't have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal where she wrote an op-ed saying Assange should be hauled into court for violating the Espionage Act of 1917.

Dubbed Operation Payback, the revenge attacks are the work of an army of maybe 1,500-but-swelling self-styled "hacktivists" associated with the so-called Anonymous hacker coalition that has previously attacked the Church of Scientology and RIAA for its anti-piracy moves.

When Operation Payback first started, these modern-day Vikings said, "While we don't have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same reasons. We want transparency and counter censorship."

After the marauders downed the Visa and MasterCard web sites Wednesday, Facebook killed an Operation Payback page where it appeared the vandals have been congregating, congratulating each other and getting their marching orders.

Facebook said the page was removed "for violating our Terms of Use," which outlaw hate speech, threats of violence and bullying.

It appears it was an idle gesture since they just regrouped elsewhere on Facebook.

Twitter, where the timing of some of the attacks has been posted, tried to do the same thing after a file appeared that seemed to contain credit card information. MasterCard said it was bogus.

In retaliation Anonymous has been hit and WikiLeaks itself has been under sporadic DDoS attacks since it started releasing stolen US embassy cables.

After WikiLeaks got kicked off Amazon's cloud last week and lost its wikileaks.org domain to DDoS attacks on EveryDNS.net, WikiLeaks borrowed a Swiss web address belonging to the Swiss Pirate Party and reportedly now has DNS servers in 14 countries and a thousand mirror sites.

It also took out an "insurance" policy.

Before turning himself in, Assange claimed he sent a practically biblical army of 100,000 fellow travelers a stockpile of secret national and commercial information that he threatened would be decrypted and released if something happened to him. His lawyers called it a "thermonuclear device."

On Tuesday WikiLeaks said it wouldn't send out the decryption code just yet. A spokesman told the AP it will only be used if "grave matters" take place involving WikiLeaks staff. What that means is unclear.

Indicative of what the file might contain WikiLeaks, in a shot across the establishment's bow Monday, released a list of critical foreign infrastructure assets such as pipelines, mines, trans-Atlantic cables, food sources and pharmaceutical supplies that are important to the security of the United States not to mention its allies. The list is a terrorist's dream.

The AP said British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the disclosure, telling the BBC it was a "reprehensible" act committed "without regard to wider concerns of security, the security of millions of people."

The wire service said it decided against publishing the list "due to the sensitive nature of the information." The BBC linked to the list on WikiLeaks and the AP wants to know why. It said the BBC didn't respond.

The list was part of the huge cache of 252,000 stolen diplomatic cables and State Department documents that WikiLeaks started releasing last week to the detriment of international relations. Nothing so far comes close to the dictionary definition of whistle-blowing, just voyeurism and general mayhem.

The Telegraph speculates that the financial giants are acting in lockstep because Assange made the "fatal mistake" of threatening to bring down a major US bank with New Year's revelations supposedly akin to Enron. Fingers pointed at Bank of America.

The paper figures such a thing cuts a little too close to home for all of them especially in the middle of a recession.

WikiLeaks still has a post office box in Australia and bank accounts in Germany and Iceland to accept donations.

Wading into the fray Tuesday, possibly to heighten its non-existent profile, a Philadelphia start-up financial processing service called Xipwire (say Zipwire) has offered to handle WikiLeaks donations via debit and credit cards over cell phones.

It said on its site, "While people may or may not agree with WikiLeaks, we at Xipwire believe that anyone who wishes to support the organization through a donation should be able to do so." It said it is "waiving all fees so that 100 percent of the donations collected will be directly passed on to WikiLeaks." The AP says it holding the money in an escrow account since it hasn't been able to make contact with WikiLeaks.

Of course, if WikiLeaks is declared a terrorist organization, as the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee wants, US banks would be prohibited from processing payments and it would be a felony to provide the group with "material support or resources."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...