Deals and Steals for WikiLeaks on Cyber Monday
Happy Cyber Monday, Cybersecurity News readers.
As the National Retail Federation expects 106 million Americans to shop online this Cyber Monday, many in the cybersecurity world have had their eyes focused on a different deal on the Internet today.
While watchdog group WikiLeaks yesterday prepared to release over 250,000 US embassy cables (i.e. secret, confidential and unclassified reports), the organization took to its Twitter page to announce: “We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack.”
According to reports, in advance of its classified information rollout coined “Cablegate,” WikiLeaks fell victim to a cyber attack that crippled its site, leaving it inaccessible for most of the day on Sunday.
But it seems that WikiLeaks may have already been prepared for a possible site outage, as it previously provided many of the obtained documents to several major news outlets around the globe, including the New York Times, who reported that the cables reveal the US has considered the fall of North Korea, monetary incentives for Guantánamo Bay prisoners and the fact that China’s Politburo was behind the Google hacking effort that took place late last year.
According to the Times, “The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002,” the cables affirmed.
Also covering the issue, CBS News this afternoon reported that Google said it would have “no comment” on the latest WikiLeaks revelation, but that “the disclosure provides another irritant in an increasingly tense relationship between the company and the regime.”
And as the rocky relationship between the pair is due largely in part to the Chinese government’s Internet censorship, it may come as no surprise this afternoon that the Wall Street Journal is reporting, “As of Monday evening in Beijing, the WikiLeaks ‘Cablegate’ page was blocked by China’s Great Firewall—a rudimentary first-step on China’s censorship checklist.”
According to the Journal, China appears in over 8,300 of WikiLeaks cable leaks.
But while China’s censorship and hacking seem sure to remain, many have looked back to a previous WikiLeaks info-drop last July that exposed more than 90,000 secret US military documents and had the cyber world debating whether or not the US government could or should take down the Wikileaks site with a cyber attack.
So was the DDoS attack on the WikiLeaks site yesterday the US government’s effort to stop the organization from again releasing confidential reports?
According to CNN: No. The cyber attack was the product of a computer hacker who calls himself “The Jester,” a recent report said. A self-described “hacktivist for good,” the computer hacker said he attacked the site “for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, ‘other assets’ & foreign relations.”
Whether or not “The Jester” was behind the hit, also covering the topic of hack attribution, in an interview with Postmedia News, California-based cybersecurity expert Barrett Lyon advised that the DDoS attack on the WikiLeaks site could be from “somebody disgruntled with the information, it could be the government, it could be anybody that has a particular agenda to shut their site down.” Further adding: “It’s not hard to do.”
And while Reuters reported that Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton in a statement today said, “The United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats’ personal assessments and observations,” a separate report from the Wall Street Journal found that a Google technical glitch this afternoon caused access issues for users of Google.com in China.