Whistleblower WikiLeaks has been the target of a massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, which saw the site become slow to access and even go offline for over a week. And while the website is now back up and running, the DDoS attack continues, which means it may become inaccessible again in the future.
The masterminds behind the attack is a group of hacktivists calling themselves “AntiLeaks”, and they take a combative stance against WikiLeaks. Unlike the hacker group Anonymous, which has contributed a number of sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks and targeted several government websites in support of founder Julian Assange, AntiLeaks does not back WikiLeaks or Assange; quite the opposite. In a Twitter statement, the self-proclaimed leader of the group said:
“You can call me DietPepsi. I am the leader of AntiLeaks. We are not doing this to call attention to ourselves. We are young adults, citizens of the United States of America and are deeply concerned about the recent developments with Julian Assange and his attempt at asylum in Ecuador.
“Assange is the head of a new breed of terrorist. We are doing this as a protest against his attempt to escape justice into Ecuador. This would be a catalyst for many more like him to rise up in his place. We will not stop and they will not stop us.”
The DDoS attack on WikiLeaks flooded the site with a massive volume of fake traffic from thousands of different Internet addresses. The attack targeted a number of other sites as well, including WikiLeaks mirror sites and even websites that are just related to WikiLeaks, like FDNN, a French non-profit that acts as host for WikiLeaks’ donation portal; Cabledrum, a search engine for the Cablegate files published on WikiLeaks; and Justice for Assange, a group fighting for the release of Julian Assange. These associate sites were offline for a shorter duration than the WikiLeaks site proper.
The online attack came at about the same time as WikiLeaks’ release of several new emails leaked by Anonymous from the servers of Stratfor, a consulting firm. The batch of files concerns Trapwire, a US-wide system that tracks individuals who may pose a threat to national security. Trapwire uses facial recognition, software algorithms and data from multiple surveillance cameras across the US, the UK and Canada to track suspicious behaviour and activities and predict criminal activity.
However, AntiLeaks says that the timing of the attack and the release of information about the monitoring system is coincidental and that the two events are unrelated. When questioned about the matter, DietPepsi said, “I want to make it clear to all the conspiracy theorists out there that we have nothing to do with the United States Government or Trapwire. We find it quite humorous to read all these Twitter comments from people who suspect us of being NSA/CIA/FBI/or even WikiLeaks themself [sic].”
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