Posts Tagged ‘Wikileaks’

FBI Conducts ‘Anonymous’ Raids Across US

The FBI yesterday executed 40 search warrants around the US to gather evidence on the Anonymous distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in defense of WikiLeaks last year—attacks which targeted Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Amazon.

During those raids they waved guns around, interrogated confused mothers of teenagers about ’4chan’, seized iPhones, thumb drives and any laptop anywhere in the family homes of which they had kicked the front doors down to gain entry to.

The FBI yesterday reminded the public that “facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.”

Let’s hope that they are also pursuing those that participated in DDoS attacks against Wikileaks as aggressively.

Anonymous have this to say in their manifesto…

As traditional means of protest (peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, the blocking of a crossroads or the picketing of a factory fence) have slowly turned into nothing but an empty, ritualised gesture of discontent over the course of the last century, people have been anxiously searching for new ways to pressure politicians and give voice to public demands in a manner that might actually be able to change things for the better. Anonymous has, for now, found this new way of voicing civil protest in the form of the DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attack. Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block access to our opponents’ infrastructure to get our message across.

Posted: January 29th, 2011
Categories: News
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‘Anonymous’ Arrests in the UK

Five men have been arrested over a spate of recent web attacks carried out in support of Wikileaks.

The five were arrested this morning at 0700 GMT in connection with offences under the Computer Misuse Act.

Three of the ‘five men’ are 15, 16 & 19.

And the ‘web attacks’ were nothing more than the equivalent of a digital sit in which attempted to prevent customers from entering a virtual store. In this case PayPal, Visa or Amazon’s websites.

The ‘attacks’ were not endorsed by Wikileaks.

Posted: January 28th, 2011
Categories: News
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MasterCard may cut off File Sharing Sites over Piracy

This is a strong indication that the company is ready and willing to cut sites off if the law should demand it. It also raises the prospect that MasterCard could cut sites off even without a legal requirement to do so. The company recently came under fire from Anonymous over its decision to cease processing payments for WikiLeaks, something it was under no legal obligation to do.

It is amazing that it’s taken the various interested parties so long to think of this. But when they saw how quick financial institutions were to react to edicts to shut down payments to Wikileaks they must have thought all of their Christmas’s had come at once. MasterCard, Visa and most banking institutions are all too happy to take money from any source, it seems, until some pressure is applied. But then it’s not such a huge surprise to any of us that these organisations have very few moral ethics in reality.

Increasingly the way to deal with anything that does not fit with the ideals of big business or government is to “Send them to Coventry” with varying degrees of severity. Unfortunately, this is how we fracture societies, breed resentment, and ultimately end up with fringe groups with nothing to lose.

Still, there are troubling questions. The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.

What’s more, we now have Bank of America who will face some embarrassing revelations in the New Year (courtesy of Wikileaks) unilaterally, and completely coincidentally of course, trying to nobble their cash flow.

What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.

Posted: December 27th, 2010
Categories: Censorship, internet
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The Caveat of “The Cloud”

It’s been said a few times this week, but it bears repeating…

As far as the law of contract is concerned, Amazon can do what it likes. But this isn’t just about contracts any more. “While Amazon was within its legal rights,” MacKinnon warns, “the company has nonetheless sent a clear signal to its users: if you engage in controversial speech that some individual members of the US government don’t like… Amazon is going to dump you at the first sign of trouble.”

Yep. For years people have extolled cloud computing as the way of the future. The lesson of the last week is simple: be careful what you wish for.

I for one will not be using Amazon’s services at all in the forseeable future. Any of them.

In any case, I have not been a fan of the movement to shift to “The Cloud’ for some time. Before Wikileaks my reasons were simply to do with the limitations of bandwidth that we all still face unless we live right slap bang in the middle of a major city.

But now I have another reason; Amazon (and their ilk) cannot be trusted.

Posted: December 11th, 2010
Categories: Opinion, internet
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Perfect Hypocrisy

• The US has welcomed the arrest of Assange. “That sounds like good news to me,” said Robert Gates US defence secretary. “The international manhunt for Julian Assange is over,” NBC television declared.

• The WikiLeaks crisis is holding back talks on Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak.

5.30pm: With perfect timing an email arrives from Philip Crowley at the state department:

The United States is pleased to announce that it will host Unesco’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from 1-3 May in Washington, DC.

Ironic? Read the next paragraph from the press release:

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

Shameless. You really could not make it up.

The entire entry from The Guardian is a great timeline of yesterdays events related to Wikileaks and Julian Assange’s arrest.

Posted: December 8th, 2010
Categories: Censorship, News, internet
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Assange : “Don’t shoot the messenger”

Two articles you should read about Wikileaks…

The first is an Op-Ed by Assange himself for The Australian…

I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

The second is from The Guardian…

On 21 January, secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech about internet freedom, in Washington DC, which many people welcomed and most interpreted as a rebuke to China for its alleged cyberattack on Google. “Information has never been so free,” declared Clinton. “Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”

She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, Barack Obama had “defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity.” Given what we now know, that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.

In many ways I now find Clinton far more distasteful than Palin.

And Obama, well he promised great things, and to date has only disappointed… the entire world.

Posted: December 7th, 2010
Categories: Censorship, internet
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Eloquent Analysis of #cablegate…

I love how Mark Pesce has summed up Cablegate (although he needs to read up a little bit more on the relationship between security and DDoS attacks, or lack thereof)..

Has Earth become a sort of amplified Facebook, where an in-crowd of Heathers, horrified, suddenly finds its bitchy secrets posted on a public forum? Is that what we’ve been reduced to? Or is that what we’ve been like all along? That could be the source of the anger. We now know that power politics and statecraft reduce to a few pithy lines referring to how much Berlusconi sleeps in the company of nubile young women and speculations about whether Medvedev really enjoys wearing the Robin costume.

It’s this triviality which has angered those in power. The mythology of power – that leaders are somehow more substantial, their concerns more elevated and lofty than us mere mortals, who must not question their motives – that mythology has been definitively busted. This is the final terminus of aristocracy; a process that began on July 14, 1789 came to a conclusive end on November 28, 2010. The new aristocracies of democracy have been smashed, trundled off to the guillotine of the internet, and beheaded.

And yet these same “leaders” are now compounding their now all too visible hypocrisy by repeatedly baying for the state sponsored murder of Assange. Which amounts to a public call in an international forum for the illegal extra-judicial execution of a human being.

And for what? All Julian has done is RT a bunch of embarrassing international DMs between two bitches slagging off a third party.

The standard line out of any of the myriad embarrassed embassies and government houses scattered around the world can be summarised as follows…

These leaks (which paint me / my party / my government in a very bad light) will have little affect on our strong relationships with x, y or z. I / We refuse to dignify them with any specific comment on their content.

And yet in the same breathless rant this usually follows…

These leaks put lives at risk, and Assange should immidiately be executed / beheaded / thrown in jail for treason / extraordinarily rendered etc. etc. etc.

I am confused. Either these leaks are harming you or they aren’t. Either they are true, or they aren’t.

These official reactions only serve to underline how much truth there is to the seedy overview of international politics that Cablegate has afforded us.

Frankly I think it is more appropriate for us to be calling for world leaders to be held to account for their own treasonous actions.

Mark sums up with this…

We’ve been here before. This is 1999, the company is Napster, and the angry party is the recording industry. It took them a while to strangle the beast, but they did finally manage to choke all the life out of it – for all the good it did them. Within days after the death of Napster, Gnutella came around, and righted all the wrongs of Napster: decentralised where Napster was centralised; pervasive and increasingly invisible. Gnutella created the ‘darknet’ for file-sharing which has permanently crippled the recording and film industries. The failure of Napster was the blueprint for Gnutella.

In exactly the same way – note for note -the failures of WikiLeaks provide the blueprint for the systems which will follow it, and which will permanently leave the state and its actors neutered. Assange must know this – a teenage hacker would understand the lesson of Napster. Assange knows that someone had to get out in front and fail, before others could come along and succeed. We’re learning now, and to learn means to try and fail and try again.

This failure comes with a high cost. It’s likely that the Americans will eventually get their hands on Assange – a compliant Australian Government has already made it clear that it will do nothing to thwart or even slow that request – and he’ll be charged with espionage, likely convicted, and sent to a US federal prison for many, many years. Assange gets to be the scapegoat, the pinup boy for a new kind of anarchism. But what he’s done can not be undone; this tear in the body politic will never truly heal.

His conclusions lay out one possible outcome. I am not sure I agree with it all.

Unfortunately I think that things will simply go back to business as usual in the future, and Assange may or may not be arrested or killed; the latter of those last two being more likely. Bringing Assange to trial in public anywhere is simply too risky for any government. Notwithstanding the cold hard fact that he is not guilty of any criminal charge that any government can reasonably bring against him. So, unfortunately a “heart attack”, bizarre suicide or a radioactive cocktail are the top three on my list of possible outcomes.

Liars, thieves and murderers rarely change their spots. But once caught they tend to guard their future actions more carefully. This is the difference that we will not actually see, but know has happened : Politicians still lying and cheating, but only doing so in hushed whispers, with nothing in writing. Especially not the order to hunt down and eradicate the “treasonous terrorist” that Assange apparently is!

Copies of wikileaks will emerge, regardless of whether the original is shut down or not.

But one of two possible things is clear; Assange either has a cunning plan or has been very lucky so far.

Let’s hope his luck continues.

Posted: December 6th, 2010
Categories: Opinion
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So Amazon is Lieberman’s Bitch?

Early this week, after hacker attacks on its site, Wikileaks moved its operation, including all those diplomatic cables, to the greener pastures of Amazon.com’s cloud servers. But today, it was down again and mid-afternoon we found out the reason: Amazon had axed Wikileaks from its servers.

The announcement came from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Lieberman said in a statement that Amazon’s “decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.”

Thankfully other companies in other countries, which presumably understand the nuances of the law surrounding leaks and freedom of speech better than US Senator Lieberman, are willing to host wikileaks, despite Lieberman’s calls for them to follow suit with Amazon.

Amazon said the site had violated unspecified terms of use.

Shame on you Amazon.

For the record I have now cancelled any accounts I have with Amazon.

Posted: December 2nd, 2010
Categories: Censorship, News
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Forbes Interview Julian Assange…

Wide ranging interview with Julian Assange of wikileaks… Well worth reading.

We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.

[I]t could take down a bank or two.

We have some material on spying by a major government on the tech industry. Industrial espionage.

One thing is very clear in this interview. Assange is not just about going after the US, as some would have us believe. And his primary concern is exposing massive corruption that affects people’s lives.

So from my perspective Assange’s stated motivations are admirable…

[S]pying is also stabilizing to relationships. Your fears about where a country is or is not are always worse than the reality. If you only have a black box, you can put all your fears into it, particularly opportunists in government or private industry who want to address a problem that may not exist. If you know what a government is doing, that can reduce tensions.

Posted: November 30th, 2010
Categories: Interview
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Wikileaks : Are they eavesdropping on you?

Fascinating article about the inception of Wikileaks :

The New Yorker doesn’t identify the WikiLeaks activist who was the source for the documents siphoned from Tor, but the description of how the documents were obtained is similar to how a Swedish computer security consultant named Dan Egerstad intercepted government data from five Tor exit nodes he set up in 2007 — months after Wikileaks launched — in Sweden, Asia, the United States and elsewhere.

Egerstad told Threat Level in August 2007 that he was able to read thousands of private e-mail messages sent by foreign embassies and human rights groups around the world by turning portions of the Tor internet-anonymity service into his own private listening post. The intercepted data included user names and passwords for e-mail accounts of government workers, as well as correspondence belonging to the Indian ambassador to China, various politicians in Hong Kong, workers in the Dalai Lama’s liaison office and several human rights groups in Hong Kong.

I also took away some other useful information too :

  • The Tor network does not protect your data from being intercepted and read.

The activist siphoned more than a million documents as they traveled across the internet through Tor, also known as “The Onion Router,” a sophisticated privacy tool that lets users navigate and send documents through the internet anonymously.

The siphoned documents, supposedly stolen by Chinese hackers or spies who were using the Tor network to transmit the data, were the basis for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s assertion in 2006 that his organization had already “received over one million documents from 13 countries” before his site was launched, according to the article in The New Yorker.

The New Yorker article did not indicate whether WikiLeaks continues to intercept data from the Tor network. Assange did not immediately return a call for comment from Threat Level.

  • If you setup an “exit node” on the Tor network you can peek at data yourself.

By necessity, however, the last node through which traffic passes has to decrypt the communication before delivering it to its final destination. Someone operating that exit node can therefore read the traffic passing through this server.

If you are using Tor then rest assured someone, maybe someone innocuous, but more than likely a government is monitoring your data. Unless you are encrypting your data at the source.

Anyone who runs an exit node can easilly see the information you are sending. Just as you can see other’s information if you operate an exit node.

This all seems obvious when you think about it. But people tend to associate anonymous with secure.

The thing is though, if people can see your data they can probably tell where it came from and where it is going to…

Posted: June 2nd, 2010
Categories: News, Opinion, Speculation
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