A distributed denial of attack on WikiLeaks main site subsided this morning after slowing traffic to a crawl starting late Tuesday evening, apparently in response to an unexpected rush-publication of more than 134,000 secret U.S. State Department cables that had not previously been released.
A New York Times story Monday said the bulk release – six times the number released up to that point – appeared to have been less closely filtered than earlier document. Many still included the names of human rights activists, journalists, academics and other State. Dept. sources in authoritarian countries whose identities had been marked "strictly protect" in the cables themselves.
The @WikiLeaks Twitter feed, widely supposed to be written by Assange himself, denied the charges in an Aug. 29 post, and slammed the NYT's intentions as well.
“Totally false that any WikiLeaks sources have been exposed or will be exposed. NYT drooling, senile, and evil.”
A German newspaper reported that an encrypted file with all the 250,000-some secret cables in WikiLeaks' possession had been posted online months ago and that a password was available from other sites.
Wired quotes what it calls a former WikiLeaks staffer named Herbert Snorrason as saying the file was posted inadvertently and that the password had been given to an external source for unrelated reasons before the file found its way online.
Other sources cited rumors Assange himself had included the file accidentally along with unencrypted files released to the media purposely as a summary of all the documents WikiLeaks had posted so far, following a staff revolt in which a large number of WikiLeakers quit to go found a rival site called OpenLeak.
At 10:30 ET this morning, WikiLeaks Twitter denied that the material released any new informant names. Assange is widely supposed to be the author of the @WikiLeaks feed. All the names in the documents had been published previously by mainstream media sources, it claims.
About the primary source for Wired's story, the Twitter feed said "'Herbert Snorrason is not, and has never been, a WikiLeaks staffer."
WikiLeaks DDOS ends without bringing tango down
The DDOS attack on Wikileaks.org began late Tuesday evening and slowed the site to a crawl, but never actually brought it down.
@WikiLeaks notified followers of the attack and immediately pointed to alternate sites for access to the cables at cablegatesearch.com and WikiLeaks Luxembourg site, then continued giving updates last night and into this morning.
The attack subsided before midnight eastern time, prompting a quick "nice try" from @WikiLeaks, followed this morning that the group would be making an "important announcement" sometime today.
There is no indication what the announcement will be.
There is also no indication so far of who launched the attack. Renowned hacker and LulzSec hater TheJesterclaimed credit for a successful DOS attack last November. The brevity and failure of the attack don't eliminate Jester or other opponents of WikiLeaks allies Anonymous and LulzSec as suspects in the attack, but does argue against the possibility.
Jester describes himself as a hacker and former military sigint specialist who attacks anti-American and jihadist sites vigilante-style in support of U.S. interests – often successfully, often while conducting side battles with hackers who try to assume his identity or with whom Jester has a beef.
In their campaign to shut down LulzSec – an Anonymous spinoff group that followed Anonymous attacks on WikiLeaks opponents in November, but then continued with – hackers and hacker groups such as Web Ninjas, Team Poison and Jester were generally successful.
A posting on @AnonOps, a primary channel for news from Anonymous warns that WikiLeaks had been under "constant" DDOS attacks from a botnet that is also attacking Anonymous, according to a video and press announcement posted on the Anonymous news blog Aug. 25.
The release complains that reporting the attacks to law enforcement has resulted in no action, so Anonymous itself promised to track down and punish the culprits.
Inter-hacker vigilante justice, harassment and character assassination are becoming quite a big deal, often a big enough deal to distract people from the content of the documents and attacks on the anti-American sites both sides claim are the only important part of the process.
WikiLeaks Tweets its own attack:
- WikiLeaks.org is presently under attack. You can still search US cables here cablegatesearch.net/search.php
- 16 hours ago
- We are still under a cyber attack. Use WikiLeaks Luxembourg http://wikileaks.lu/ or our search system http://cablegatesearch.net/
- 14 hours agoFavoriteRetweetReply
- WikiLeaks fast mirror fall back wikileaks.lu
- 15 hours ago
- WikiLeaks.org still down for some. You will need to wait 10 minutes or so until DNS cache timeout. Until then, wikileaks.lu etc
- 12 hours ago
- WikiLeaks.org back. Nice try.
- 12 hours ago
- wikileaks WikiLeaks
- Prepare for an important announcement.
- 2 hours ago
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.