Following WikiLeaks publishing the 400,000 classified documents about the Iraq war, both US officials and press have called for a direct attack on the file-leaking organisation under the pretext of national security. But an attack would be “behind the scenes”, not direct, a security expert tells TechEye.
In an editorial entitled ‘Declare War on WikiLeaks’ the Washington Times claimed that the “organization has morphed from a relatively harmless aid to government whistleblowers into a threat to U.S. national security. It should be treated accordingly.”
This call to arms was echoed by Christian Whitton, a former State Department adviser under George W Bush, who was equally unequivocal in determining the website a hostile enemy of the country which should be “electronically assaulted.”
“First and foremost, it is important to understand that this is a serious challenge to our national security. It’s not about government transparency or free speech, which is the claim WikiLeaks and its leader, a certain Julian Assange, are making,” said Whitton.
“Rather, this is an act of political warfare against the United States. WikiLeaks is a foreign organization that obtained these documents as a result of espionage and it means to use the information to thwart and alter U.S. policy.”
Harsh words indeed. But how possible is it for the US to actually stage a cyber attack? Should WikiLeaks be cowering from the wrath of the superpower?
According to an anonymous industry source, it would be possible, right now, for the US to attempt an attack – though it would be extremely unlikely that the US would ever do so directly.
“The US certainly has the capability to attack, though why they would do so now is unclear. If the US were going to attack WikiLeaks they would have done so by now, and certainly a long time before the first tranche of information was released,” our source said.
“The government would not be rash, or naïve, enough to launch a direct attack now, it would be much more likely to come behind the scenes. All it does is attract publicity to WikiLeaks and lend credence to other questionable conspiracy theories that may arise on the site.”
Our source stated that a “behind the scenes attack” would be more likely, with sympathetic parties potentially attempting to protect their own interests with offensive action against the site.
For example, if the operations of private security and intelligence firms in areas such as Iraq become known – causing disruption and consequential loss of earnings – this could potentially provide reason for a cyber attack.
Such an attack is speculation, but it certainly seems that the US is unlikely to launch an attack itself, no matter how much caterwauling the hostile US press chooses to print.