The web problems were a result of the site being attacked, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter. As CNN explained, the attacks, called “distributed denial of service [DDOS]” attacks can “make a website unavailable to users, normally by flooding it with requests for data.”
In the case of Sunday’s cyber attacks on WikiLeaks’ domain, a computer hacker who goes by the name “Th3J35t3r” (The Jester) has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the domain attack.
The Jester claims he is a “hactivist for good,” CNN reported.
It’s unconfirmed whether The Jester is actually behind Sunday’s attacks, however, he did tweet admitting to the attempts and reportedly has been known for successfully blocking access to websites. While “Th3J35t3r” is more known for his blocking access to websites related to terrorist recruitment, he seems to have made an exception to target WikiLeaks.
He is not the only one putting Wikileaks in the cross-hairs given that at least one American politician is attempting to label WikiLeaks a terrorist organization–a label that would legally deter and at least taint any future funding and protection of WikiLeaks and Assange by any person or government.
See here the Jester’s blog.
In a Sept. 17 post, he wrote a detailed blog about WikiLeaks.
He noted that WikiLeaks had just published an encrypted file on their Afghan War Logs page–‘gap-insurance.aes256′– supposedly for “insurance” in case WikiLeaks and/or Assange himself is somehow evaporated.
The Jester also wrote that he views the “insurance” code as WikiLeaks “attempting to hold the U.S. Government ransom” by having that mystery file lingering and looming on its website, but not explaining what is on it.
In a section titled “Levelling the Field,” he speaks directly but “hypothetically” to Assange.
The Jester implies that he has investigated the WikiLeaks files and hints that he made some crucial discoveries, including, the names of people “financing and donating” and the advisory board for his operations. (The Jester writes “(J, B, W, N, D, T, Y, X, P, C, C – you know who you are ;-).”
He suggests in geek-speak that Wikileaks itself is spying on anyone downloading its information: “the embedding of what can only be described as spyware within PDF files downloadable from WikiLeaks site –(now, even if WikiLeaks didn’t put it there, how did it pass the WikLeaks stringent ‘cleansing’ process and end up on multiple documents available to an ‘interested public’? (Who’s spying on who?).”
ABC News reported an interview with The Jester yesterday. According to ABC, the interview was “exclusive” and took place “last month.” The interview, conducting via Twitter direct messages, explains that the Jester views WikiLeaks as “a sideshow target.”
“I am more interested in the big jihad recruiting and training sites,” The Jester is quoted as saying.
On Sunday, he tweeted “www.wikileaks.org – TANGO DOWN – for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, ‘other assets’ & foreign relations.” Tango Down, as ABC News explains, is “a special forces military term for having eliminated a terrorist.”
Ordinarily, The Jester targets sites for short periods of time – about half an hour to an hour, ABC News reported.
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“I could pull them down forever but i choose to do sporadic bursts,” he reportedly said. He also claims to be “A friend [sic] of US.”
He reportedly won’t reveal details of his identity including age, nationality or location, but has described himself as a male between 30 and 50 years old.
ABC News also reported that he says he was once a “member of a special operations unit” and “has worked with U.S. forces.” He also reportedly won’t reveal if he “has ever fought in Afghanistan or Iraq” but was “in the business of closing and destroying the enemy, up close and personal.”
Hypponen is quoted as saying while he can’t confirm The Jester conducted the attacks on WikiLeaks, “He’s demonstrated the capability to do an attack like this. He seems to have the motive against Wikileaks, and he claims he did it. I don’t think there is much reason to doubt that it was him.”
ComputerWorld consulted Craig Labovitz, a chief scientist at an anti-Denial of Service technology supplier, Arbor Networks, about the attacks.
He is quoted as saying: “This looks like a different attack from yesterday. It’s a more complex attack, with multiple components, and it’s a more significant attack.”
He also noted that WikILeaks has “been moving their hosting around.”
“They seem to have gone from using small providers to using larger providers, which have better capabilities to deal with these attacks,” Labovitz is quoted as saying.
WikiLeaks reportedly moved to Amazon.com’s servers. As the Guardian reported, WikiLeaks transferred to Amazon’s server after Sunday’s hacking attack.
“The site came under a ‘Distributed Denial of Service’ (DDOS) attack on Sunday night from an unidentified hacker, forcing it to seek a new location from its computer files. And it found it through Amazon’s ‘Elastic Cloud Computing’ (EC2) service, which enables businesses to hire its servers and store their data there,” the Guardian reported.
iMediaEthics attempted to contact “Th3j35t3r” by e-mail and by Twitter yesterday but hasn’t had any response. We will update with any response.
Meanwhile, Assange reportedly told Time magazine in a Skype interview yesterday that he believes U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “should resign” if “she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations.”
Assange also explained that WikiLeaks is posting “about 80 [documents] a day presently, and that will gradually step up as the other media partners step in.”
INTERPOL posted a wanted notice for Assange last night, and Swedish authorities are still seeking Assange under an arrest warrant in connection with charges of sexual molestation and rape.
However, Der Spiegel told StinkyJournalism that WikiLeaks is not a “partner” but a source. Likewise, the New York Times’ executive editor Bill Keller clearly stated in a question-and-answer with readers Monday that “WikiLeaks is not a ‘media partner’ of the Times.”
See here iMediaEthics’ other reporting on WikiLeaks.