Tag: ddos

US claims that Assange is not a journalist

The Land of the Fee (sic) is showing how that “freedom of the press” stuff was all just a convenient jingle to get the great unwashed to become cannon fodder for that French-backed revolution they had a while back.

The US Justice Department is contemplating how it can lock up Julian Assange for embarrassing the US government. The only difficulty is that the US constitution is clear that arresting journalists is a pretty bad idea.

This is because the revolution was helped thanks to the propaganda techniques of the publisher Paul Revere who was responsible for putting a wholesome gloss on what was a self-motivated rebellion against popular British rule.

According to Wired, the Justice Department thinks that it can distinguish Wikileaks from traditional media outlets and charge Assange with violating the Espionage Act.

Kenneth Wainstein, former assistant attorney general on national security, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing about Wikileaks said that by showing how Wikileaks is fundamentally different, the government should be able to demonstrate that any prosecution here is the exception and is not the sign of a more aggressive prosecution effort against the press.

Currently senators are baying for blood. They want the 1917 Espionage Act to be revised to make it easier to prosecute recipients of classified information.

However the problem here is that pesky First Amendment. If Assange can be prosecuted for espionage for publishing such information, there is no reason why a similar prosecution couldn’t be made against other news organisations for doing the same thing.

But Wainstein claimed that Wikileaks is not a news outlet. He said that while traditional media focus on publishing newsworthy information to educate the great unwashed, Wikileaks focuses on obtaining and disclosing any official secrets.

While the media also gather news about sensitive areas of government operations through investigative reporting, Wikileaks uses encrypted digital drop boxes to encourage disclosures of sensitive government information and circumvent laws prohibiting such disclosures.

The traditional media also limit disclosures only to sensitive information that specifically relates to a particular story deemed to be of public importance. Wikileaks whacks the lot up with no regard for their relevance.

Assange’s oft-quoted remark that he “enjoys crushing bastards” is evidence that his release of sensitive information is a personal rather than a public-minded agenda, Wainstein said.

What the US government is hoping is that any judge will have in her or his mind a concept of a newspaper and therefore show Wikileaks is not one. But, to do that, a judge has to ignore an inconvenient truth about even traditional media. All of them, if they had access to diplomatic cables would print them. They might tart them up a bit with a story, but print them they must.

You cannot claim that a newspaper is a spy because it does a half-arsed job of presenting the facts. No one in the US senate would consider someone working for a tabloid less of a journalist than someone working for the Wall Street Journal.

Politicians, nor judges, have no power to define what a newspaper is. A newspaper is anything that prints something that you don’t know. Paul Revere’s rags would not have been considered newspapers by the British, any more than Wikileaks would be considered a newspaper by the US establishment. However they clearly are.

Certainly the effects of the leaks have shown cushy politicians have it when it comes to traditional news. They can spin, control, leak, release information when they like. Wikileaks however showed the horrible truth about what was going on in Washington.

However some of the witnesses at the hearing have noticed that pointed out that many of the cables published so far have contained information that should not have been classified and took aim at the government’s routine over-classification of documents.

Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, indicated that as a result of so much secrecy, leaks to the press had become one of the primary ways for the public to be kept informed about what its government is doing.

What is a little more alarming is that Congress is considering a change to the Shield Act, which Congress has been mulling as an amendment to the Espionage Act. The amendment would make it illegal to publish the names of informants who provide information to the military and intelligence agencies.

While this would appear OK on the surface, if the law was applied to non-government persons,  it would suppress their right to free speech.

It seems that the US needs to wake up to the fact that if you have a free society which was peddled as being important during the tea tax rebellion, you can’t turn around a couple of hundred years later and say “we made a mistake we really do want to control you”. It means that all those people who were duped into fighting the British for freedom, actually replaced one mild “tyranny” for one which was much worse. Ironically that makes Animal Farm, George Orwell’s satire about Communism more applicable to the United States.

US Air Force starts blocking sites linked to Wikileaks

The US Air Force is so terrified of Wikileaks it is banning any newspaper or magazine that happens to publish material from the site.

The New York Times, Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel have all been censored by the US Air Force and anyone who tries to view them get an “ACCESS DENIED. Internet Usage is Logged & Monitored” notice.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the notice means that trying to read the Guardian or the New York Times could send airforce personnel to the glass house.

The Air Force has confirmed that it has blocked more than 25 websites that contained the documents, originally obtained by the website Wikileaks and published starting late last month, in order to keep classified material off unclassified computer systems.

Major Toni Tones (no really), a spokeswoman for Air Force Space Command, said that removing such material after it ends up on a computer could require “unnecessary time and resources.

A New York Times spinner told the Journal that it was sad that the US Air Force has chosen not to allow its personnel access to the most important news, analysis and commentary.

After all where are they going to read Apple press releases and stories about the next iPad if they are banned from reading the New York Times?

The Guardian has big words in it, so we doubt it will be missed that much by US military personnel. We would not think there were many in the US military who can speak German and the vast majority would think that Berlin was somewhere in Utah.

Apparently it is only the Air Force which has instituted the ban.The Army, Navy and Marines aren’t blocking the sites, and the Defense Department hasn’t told anyone to do so.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has issued guidance against visiting Wikileaks or downloading documents posted there, according to officials.

Anonymous attack on Amazon.com fails, hackers move on

The DDoS attack by Anonymous on Amazon.com has seemingly failed today, causing the hackers to abandon it and refocus their efforts on more achieveable targets like PayPal.

The failed attack was noted on Anonymous’ twitter account, where it said:

“Okay, we have changed our target — the Hive isn’t big enough to attack Amazon. NEW TARGET: api.paypal.com. Port: 443. SPREAD THE WORD.

“Listen up, we’re NOT targeting Amazon. Please join The Hive or attack manually to api.paypal.com.”

Several more tweets were posted that revealed that Amazon was too big a target and that Anonymous did not have enough resources to bring it down, thought it appears that Anonymous intends to try to attack it again at a later date:

“Okay, here’s the real deal – We can not attack Amazon, currently. The previous schedule was to do so, but we don’t have enough forces. 

“Though our final intention is to DDoS Amazon.com, we currently CAN NOT. The target is api.paypal.com, port 443 as shown on the main channel.”

The attack was scheduled for around 4:00pm GMT yesterday after Anonymous posted a tweet setting Amazon.com as the next DDoS target: 

“New target: www.amazon.com. Time check: 1h50m. They are selling the cables. Connect your LOICs to the Hive. Attack will start soon.”

The comment about Amazon selling the cables relates to a Kindle book by Heinz Duthel which features the first 5,000 cables in the latest leak. Many have seen this as hypocrisy on Amazon’s part, since it previously pulled web hosting support for Wikileaks.

So what went wrong for Anonymous? In many ways, it’s simply a matter of Amazon having built-in capability to fend off DDoS attacks. It has a huge array of datacentres and its clouds services, including EC2, allow for rapid scaling of web hosting to cope with heavy loads, either from genuine customers in the busy Christmas shopping season or from a DDoS attack.

In fact, its European datacentre, which previously hosted Wikileaks, is in Dublin and is so large that it accounts for “more than a third of all internet-facing web servers in Ireland,” according to internet security firm Netcraft. Considering that Ireland hosts many of the big technology firms’ European datacentres, including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Vodafone and EMC, Amazon clearly has a large infrastructure in place that Anonymous may find impossible to bring down.

Paul Bristow Chief Operating Officer of DDoS protection firm Webscreen, speaks to TechEye:

“The Anonymous DDoS attacks first and foremost rely on there being enough “public support” to launch a DDoS attack powerful to cause a service interruption or outage.

“I believe that in the case of Amazon there was not the same level of public support for an attack as there was  for attacks on MasterCard, PayPal, Visa and Swiss Bank,  who because of the financial nature of their business are easy targets.

“With regards to what should the companies that suffered service interruptions do, first they need an urgent independent review of their systems and infrastructure to establish the reasons why they suffered service interruptions. Typically the “Targeted Flash Crowd”  DDoS attacks used by Anonymous and others exploit backend weakness, so having huge amount of bandwidth does not help.

“Targeted Flash Crowd” attacks are designed to exploit the inherent weaknesses of old fashioned “rules” based security products and that is why so many organisations are today investing in Heuristic DDoS technology with its inbuilt intelligence and real time dynamic  functionality.”

Wikileaks revolt against Assange begins

For a while now we have been reporting how there was a growing revolt against Julian Assange’s leadership of the online whistleblowing outfit Wikileaks.

Now it seems that several key figures behind the website have resigned in protest against the controversial leader Julian Assange only to launch a new service for the so-called whistleblowers.

The goal of “Openleaks” is to build a strong, transparent platform to support whistleblowers, both in terms of technology and politics, while at the same time encouraging others to start similar projects.

Unlike Wikileaks, comments from the organisation have been “anonymous” and the structure of Openleaks is said to be more democratic.

The move comes from a schism within Wikileaks against Assange’s leadership. Some within the organisation believe that the sex charges against him were the last straw and he should have stepped aside.

They briefly shut down Wikileaks because they were furious that he was using the organisation as a reason for troubles in his personal life.

Assange has claimed that the criminal charges bought against him were all a CIA plot to discredit him and Wikileaks.

But others in the organisation felt that even if that was true, he should have offered to step aside until the matter was cleared up, to save the credibility of the organisation.

Talking to DN.se, Openleaks said that it is still supportive of Wikileaks purpose and goal.

But unlike Wikileaks, Openleaks will not receive and publish information directly for the public eye. Instead, other organisations will access the Openleaks system and in turn, present their audience with the material. Documents will be processed and published by various collaborating organisations.

Openleaks wants to establish itself as a neutral intermediary without a political agenda. It wants to provide information to the media, the public, non-profit organisations, trade and union organisations and other participating groups.

No documents will be published under Openleak’s name.This means that the responsibility of publishing the information will be the media bodies who get their paws on the material. Openleaks does not want to get into the position where it has to check or edit the material.

It feels that this will mean that world leaders will not attack the organisation but will instead be more interested in silencing media outlets in their own country.  Good luck with that.

Anonymous takes down Visa, Amazon, PayPal, Swiss bank, Assange prosecutor

War has been declared on the internet between hackers backing Wikileaks and companies who have withdrawn support for the website. The hackers have already launched attacks against several companies and we can reveal that more are on the cards.

This week a hacker group, calling itself Anonymous, led a series of attacks called Operation: Payback. They targeted MasterCard, which stopped processing donations to Wikileaks. It managed to take MasterCard’s website offline yesterday with a series of DDoS attacks, effectively crippling much of MasterCard’s online services.

MasterCard is mostly back online today. It issued the following statement: 

“MasterCard has made significant progress in restoring full-service to its corporate website. Our core processing capabilities have not been compromised and cardholder account data has not been placed at risk. While we have seen limited interruption in some web-based services, cardholders can continue to use their cards for secure transactions globally.”

Today, Visa is in the crosshairs. Visa’s website came under attack from hackers and is currently down. It is likely to see sustained attacks throughout the day, with web services unlikely to resume until some time tomorrow.

The prosecutor leading the sexual assault case against Julian Assange in Sweden has come under attack. The prosecutor website, www.aklagare.se, was targeted and taken down. We managed to briefly access it to view a statement on the attack, but it was quickly down again within minutes.

Security firm PandaLabs was the first to report the attack on the Swedish prosecutor website and now PandaLabs’ own website is offline, suggesting it may also have suffered an attack.

The Swiss Post Office bank PostFinance, which recently froze Assange’s assets, was also on the hackers’ blacklist, with its website experiencing difficulties following DDoS attacks.

There have also been some reports that Amazon, which terminated Wikileaks’ hosting on its service, has been attacked, but its website is currently online. Likewise, PayPal is under attack but is also currently online. Both websites are likely to suffer further attacks later today and tomorrow in the next wave of Operation: Payback.

In a message from Anonymous yesterday Twitter was marked for a major attack due to accusations that it is censoring Wikileaks to prevent it from trending. So far Twitter has remained online, but there is little doubt that some disruption will be seen to its service over the coming days.

Today Facebook banned the Operation: Payback page for violation of the terms of service, which Anonymous appears not to have taken kindly to, so it is likely that it too has joined the long list of targets which will be DDoSed.

Many of the Operation: Payback websites and accounts have been suspended. A number of its Twitter accounts have been deleted, while some of its website were periodically down. It is not known if this is a counter-attack from government agencies, security firms, other hackers, or simply a suspension from the web hosts themselves, but the hackers have quickly brought things back online or replaced accounts with new ones.

Wikileaks slow on Bradley Manning support

Wikileaks, which became famous thanks to the leakage of military and diplomatic cables by Bradley Manning, is suddenly slow about helping the whistleblower.

When Manning was arrested Wikileaks made a big splash saying that it would contribute financially to Manning’s defence. After all, any money the group was making was thanks to him placing his life on the line to give them the cables.

Unfortunately, according to Wired, Wikileaks has been less than forthcoming with the cash.

A spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network said Wednesday that the group had still not received money that WikiLeaks pledged in July.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson publicly claimed last week that WikiLeaks had contributed “a substantial amount of money” to Manning’s defence.

When she was contacted by the Washington Post about the money, Hrafnsson said that “there had been a misunderstanding” and that $20,000 would be distributed to Manning’s defence immediately by the nonprofit Wau Holland Foundation, which manages the majority of WikiLeaks donations.

Apparently the cheque is still in the post.

But the cash is well short of the $50,000 that the Bradley Manning Support Network was expecting from WikiLeaks. Manning’s defence attorney, David Coombs, has agreed to defend the soldier for a flat fee of $100,000, and WikiLeaks was expected to pay half of it.

A spokesman for the Manning defence fund said that he understood the difficult situation WikiLeaks currently faces. But there was a pressing need to meet Bradley Manning’s legal defence.

Some of Manning’s supporters had donated to WikiLeaks on the assumption that they were going to contribute to Bradley’s defence, and they want to know if the money was reaching its intended destination, Paterson said.

WikiLeaks led a prominent fundraising campaign on Manning’s behalf following his arrest last May

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed he had hired three U.S. criminal-defense attorneys to defend Manning, and his group appealed to supporters to provide money to cover the cost of sending attorneys to the Middle East to meet with Manning. For some reason Manning had to end up hiring his own laywer.

Wikileaks had not told the world how much it raised for Manning as the detailed report of its contributions and expenses that was expected in August never arrived.

Assange said at a press conference in Geneva in November that his group had been advised not to talk about funding Manning’s legal team any more.

Hackers threaten to take down Paypal and Twitter over Wikileaks blocks

Hackers have pledged to take down Paypal within the next few hours and threatened that Twitter will be next for the alleged censorship of the #Wikileaks hashtag to prevent it from trending.

The hacker group, known as Anonymous, posted a message on the 4chan board, which it regularly uses to comment on DDoS attacks it has made or is planning. It said it is targetting PayPal “in a few hours” in what it calls Operation: Payback.

It also threatened Twitter, saying: “you’re next for censoring #Wikileaks discussion”. Twitter has denied censorship, but several researchers have questioned why the high volume hashtag has failed to trend while lower volume terms have.

The threat cannot be taken lightly, as there have also been reports that MasterCard has been the victim of a DDoS attack today, rendering the service offline. With Visa also blocking Wikileaks it may join the hackers’ growing list.

We wonder if others who have cut services to Wikileaks, such as Amazon, will also be the victim of hacking attempts over the next few hours and days. It appears that Anonymous is intent on taking down anyone seen as working against Wikileaks, which could cause massive disruption to online services.

Operation Payback

Wikileaks boss is not being picked on

Yesterday as the jail door slammed behind Wikileaks boss Julian Assange the world split between those who want him jailed for treason and those who think he is a victim of a CIA plot to discredit him.

‘Evidence’ emerged that one of the women who made the accusation of sexual assault against Assange had “links to the CIA” and there was a rumour that the US government was going to try to extradite Assange on treason charges.

Many in the IT press were shocked that Assange was remanded in custody pending his appeal against extradition, and this formed the basis of the plot allegations.

What many do not understand was that the moment that the Assange turned himself in, he was going to be jailed. I have sat in countless UK bail applications in my years as a hack. They all turn out to be a very dull checklist of qualifications that magistrates or Judges have to go through.

You rarely get bail in the UK if you do not have ties to the area that you have been arrested in. You would need an address for that and staying at the home of a business associate is not enough. Assange’s address on the charge sheet, if it exists at all, would be foreign or “no fixed abode”.

Lawyers attempting to get NFA people bail hardly ever succeed. The logic is that if the arrested person does not have an address, it is better that we give him one.

Neither will you get bail if there is a chance that you will not turn up for your next court date. This one is harder to assess. Often this is tied to whether or not the case is serious enough to want to avoid. Murder cases are always locked up. Sex cases are sometimes serious enough too. With all the pressure on him and few cares about where he was arrested Assange could easily do a runner.

So when Assange appeared before Senior District Judge Howard Riddle he would have found the boxes filled. Riddle said there were substantial grounds to believe Assenge could abscond if granted bail, the charges were serious and Assange had comparatively weak community ties in Britain. If Riddle had let Assange go, he would have set a legal precedent on bail which was never going to happen. As far as British Justice goes there is no need to wear a tin foil hat.

So what about the “links to the CIA” charge that has been levelled at one of his accessors?

Anna Ardin’s links to Cuba were posted on several websites Tuesday after Assange surrendered in London to answer a warrant issued for his arrest by Sweden.

Ardin works in Sweden’s Uppsala University visited Cuba about four times between 2002 and 2006 as a representative of Swedish social democrats.

Ardin has written for Asignaturas Cubanas, a Cuban exile magazine published in Sweden, and her 2007 master’s thesis at Uppsala University had the catchy title”The Cuban multi-party system. Is the democratic alternative really democratic and an alternative after the Castro regime?”

Two left-of-center websites also alleged that she was close to Cuban exile author Carlos Alberto Montaner and the Ladies in White, female relatives of Cuban political prisoners. One website claims that Montaner has links with the CIA. The links are tentative, the CIA backs a lot of anti-Castro groups it does not mean that they are all populated by its agents.

Even if that were the case, Montaner can’t remember ever having met Ardin and the Ladies in White are certain that they haven’t.

So what we are left with is a link between Ardin and the CIA which is more distant than her connection to Kevin Bacon.

Going through the Web II comments from readers about Ardin’s connection, and the court case it seems that the moment you suggest that Assange might have just been a dickhead and treated too women badly, you will be rounded upon for drinking the CIA cool aid and that the whole thing was an obvious honey trap.

It is based on Assange’s own idea that somehow Wikileaks could not function without him and that he had no chance of winning a case in court because the forces of darkness were all stacked against him.

As it turns out Wikileaks would function a lot better without him. Him staying on after the sex scandal was made public was a terrible mistake which cost the organisation manpower and skills. If he was so innocent he should have turned himself into a martyr, stood down from Wikileaks, gone to court, been acquitted and returned. However, Assange has consistently run away from doing anything like this.

As far as the wheels of Justice are concerned two women have called him a sex pest. It is fairly likely that if that is true then other women will suffer in similar circumstances therefore it is important that he be tried. If he is not a sex pest he will go free. If he is then he has to learn that his attitude to women sucks and it does not matter how he is saving the free world by releasing documents he needs to be a better human.

Some of the comments on Web II sites about the alleged crimes are particularly disturbing. They are written mostly by men who claim that it is not really rape. The assumption is that is OK  to have sex with a woman even when she says no “because she said yes to start with”. It is a dark assumption that, despite the rise of feminism, appears to have never been challenged.

Either way it is an assumption which should be tested in court without allegations of CIA conspiracy. The Wheels of Justice are so far turning without such emotion with everything being done by the book.

Wikileaks "sells secret information" – report

Whistleblowing outfit Wikileaks has been flogging secret information which it has been collecting to make cash on the side.

According to a co-founder, who left the organisation, John Young, Wikileaks has a lucrative sideline flogging intelligence information the site had obtained.

Young said he left the site in 2007 because he was worried by the fact that the outfit was mismanaging its funds and that Wikileaks was engaged in the selling of documents.

Speaking to WND senior reporter Aaron Klein on his radio program on New York’s WABC Radio Young claimed that Wikileaks was a money-making operation and follows the model of a number of other business intelligence operations.

Selling intelligence information is a lucrative field, and so they are following that model, usually cloaked in some kind of public benefit, he told Klein.

He first released it when the topic of raising $5 million the first year came up.

Young said that he thought that Wikileaks was supposed to be a public interest group, but as soon as I heard that, I know that “they were a criminal organisation.”

His attacks on Julian Assange are particularly nasty and personal. Claiming that he is a “narcissistic personality, he said he craves attention and will do about anything to get it.

Young said that Assange was not really anti-American – his comments about the States were just a popular crowd pleaser.

Assange picks easy targets for publicity purposes for maximum exposure, he alleged

He found it interesting that while Wikileaks is putting out this high profile material, it has abandoned putting out useful material to release bombshells and picking easy targets.

Young, 74, publishes a document-leaking website of his own called Cryptome.org that predates Wikileaks.

Cryptome famously posted online a review of security measures at the Democratic National Convention, the names of alleged UK spies and leaked internal documents about police requests inside Microsoft.

He said he was recruited by Wikileaks because of his Cryptome credibility.

Wikileaks has only itself to blame for DoS attacks

Online whistle blowing site Wikileaks is supposed to be a cutting edge tech-outfit headed by a former hacker and yet for some reason the site is being hammered by Denial of Service attacks.

Last week we saw Wikileaks being continually shut down first by its service provider Amazon, allegedly because of a breach of terms of use, and then by its DNS provider EveryDNS.

On the face of it it looks like there is a big plot to push Wikileaks off the Internet and silence the outfit.

However the information that Wikileaks has threatened to provide is already out there. Any spooks wanting to silence the outfit would be shutting the door after the horse has bolted and sold its story about stable cruelty to the local media.  The DoS attacks have to be an amateur effort.

There will always be such  attacks against such any organisation like Wikileaks, but the question is why an organisation which is run by a former hacker did not factor such an attack into his business plan.

EveryDNS is a good large service, but it is free and not designed to be taken apart by world wide attackers.

Assange must have known that given a sustained attack, the outfit would have to pull the plug on his company’s free service. Sure enough EveryDNS says it had to pull the plug because it was putting EveryDNS.net user’s interests ahead of any others by keeping Wikileaks on board. There is just so much hacking a free DNS server can take.

There were all sorts of things that Assange could have done to prevent all the problems he faced. As a former cutting edge techie he must have thought of them.

With months to prepare for the publication of the leaked material he could have found a bulletproof DNS which could have withstand the attack.

After the attack against EveryDNS Assange failed to do anything that would have sorted the problem out.

EveryDNS gave him 24 hours notice that it was going to pull the plug. More than enough time to sort out a new rugged DNS outfit and get its act together. But for some reason Wikileaks opted to go off line instead.

Instead of tweeting the IP addresses of WikiLeaks hosts, which would allow visitors to continue to reach the site uninterrupted, it used the outage to encourage donations,the outfit  tweeted instead: “WikiLeaks.org domain killed by US everydns.net after claimed mass attacks KEEP US STRONG https://donations.datacell.com/”.

Later WikiLeaks promoted WikiLeaks.ch as an alternative address knowing that domain was resolved by EveryDNS and was also shut down.

As late as Friday WikiLeaks had the four regional domains working on Friday, resolving to hosts in Sweden and France. But the organisation still has EveryDNS set as its name server for its domains.

The point is that observers are forced to wonder is Wikileaks just incompetent, or is it trying to mess with users’ heads to raise cash?

It would not be the first time that Wikileaks has cocked up trying to sort out the small stuff. In June WikiLeaks’ secure submission page stopped working when the site failed to renew its SSL certificate.

Wikileaks promised leakers that they’d enjoy the protection of strong journalist shield laws in Sweden, where Wikileaks maintains some of its servers. However this August it turned out that Wikileaks hadn’t registered as a media outlet in Sweden. No one was protected.

When Assange visited Stockholm to fix the problem he was distracted by an ongoing sex-crime investigation which he dismissed as another CIA plot.

While forgetting to plan for the DNS attacks is forgiveable for an internet novice, it is less believable for a hacker called “Mendax” who took out Nortel and other organisations, via modem in the early 90s.

There are advantages in presenting itself in the media as an “outfit which is being picked on by the man”. The DoS attacks mean that you do not even have to provide the Wikileaks data any more, you can go on making half hearted attempts to get a message, which you have already published, out there. The more picked on you appear, the more cash you will get from those whose hats are made from tin foil.

Maybe instead of worrying about the man messing with your heads, you should beware of former hackers trying to manipulate the media.