Wikileaks and Julian Assange under attack once again
Earlier this year, the whistle blowing Internet Platform Wikileaks was provided with a trove of secret documents from the US intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc. The firm, also known as Stratfor, was hacked on Christmas Eve 2011 by self-titled "Hacktivist" Group Anonymous. Wikileaks has slowly been releasing the information under the title Global Intelligence Files (GIF). The leaked documents reportedly covered a massive electronic spy program used by the US Government to track Journalists and Activists. Immediately after the documents were published on Wikileaks website, the site was hit by a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDS) attack, powerful enough to take the site down.
According to Russia Today, which is a news show that is also currently affiliated with Julian Assange's The World Tomorrow, the intelligence program is called "TrapWire" and is designed to thwart terrorist attacks by gathering information from so-called 'red zones' and storing it at a centralised location.
A variety of tools, such as facial recognition technology, are used to collect the data. This information is then compared to 'connect the dots' and reveal potential terrorist threats, and potential attacks and terrorists would be identified before it is too late. The details of this program are mostly obscure, which is logical for spying software, and the firm that programmed it, Abraxas, has made no comment.
Supposedly, TrapWire was quietly installed and implemented over the past year in most major American cities, and has reportedly been spotted abroad, though details on where exactly remain secure. An educated guess could include the recent Olympic Games in London.
Abraxas is a private firm staffed almost exclusively by former high-ranking members of the US Secret Service divisions of the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon. While the use of technology in the 'War on Terror' should not seem new or surprise anyone, the reaction towards Wikileaks documentation of it could be considered out of proportion. Wikileaks website has been down for nearly two weeks and is still under a continued attack. By overloading the network, it is possible to block traffic.
Wikileaks also employs a number of mirror websites, just in case an attack of this sort occurs, which have subsequently all been blocked. In a short statement on Twitter, Wikileaks stated, "Whoever is running it, controls thousands of machines or is able to simulate them." This is a somewhat disturbing development, suggesting that the US government or one of their affiliates has diverted their attention to hacking, which is considered criminal in most countries around the world.
A statement has also been made by the presumed hackers, calling themselves 'Antileaks':
"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 aslyum 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."
While AntiLeaks' message is aligned with many of the conservative elements of the United States, who continue to call for Assange's execution, the strength of the attack seems beyond the scope of a nongovernmental organisation. It remains unknown whether the attack comes from the Pentagon itself or a previously unknown and extremely brilliant hacker. Any further details about the program are being withheld, and as of now the hacking community Anonymous has yet to retaliate.
The TrapWire program itself, at least on the surface, seems harmless enough; however, the attention it is receiving through this attack suggests it should be taken very seriously.