Dollars

SECURIT SAFETY


CHINESE ARMY CYBER WAR AGAINST USA IS A SENSITIVE ISSUE

The New York Timesfront-page report this week that the Chinese army is hacking into America’s most sensitive computer networks from a 12-story building outside Shanghai might finally persuade skeptics that the threat of “cyber warfare” isn’t the fevered fantasy of Richard Clarke, the producers of Die Hard 4, or the generals at the ever-growing U.S. Cyber Command. Alas, it’s real.

But what is the threat? Few of those in the know believe that some fine day, out of the blue, China will zap the programs that run our power grids, gas lines, waterworks, or banking systems, sending our economy—and much else—into a tailspin. Even if the Chinese could pull off such a feat with one keystroke, it’s hard to imagine what they’d accomplish, especially since their fortunes are wrapped up with our own.

The more worrisome threat is subtler: that the Chinese (or some other powers) will use their ability to wreak cyberhavoc as leverage to strengthen their position, and weaken ours, in a diplomatic crisis or a conventional war.



For instance, in a brewing conflict over Taiwan or the South China Sea (areas where China has asserted claims aggressively in recent years), would an American president respond with full military force if he knew that the Chinese would retaliate by turning out all the lights on the Eastern Seaboard?

A familiar concept in strategic war games is “escalation-dominance.” The idea is that victory goes to the player who can take a conflict to the next level of violence in a way that inflicts enormous damage on his opponent but very little on himself. The expected outcome of the next round is so obvious that the opponent decides not to escalate; the dominant player thus controls the subsequent course of the battle and possibly wins the war.

Real war is messier than war games. Escalation holds risks all round. The two sides might have different perceptions of which one is dominant. Or the dominant side might miscalculate the opponent’s strategic priorities. For instance, China might think the American president values uninterrupted electricity on the East Coast more than a free, independent Taiwan—but that thought might be mistaken.



Still, leaders in war and crisis do take these kinds of factors into account. Many surrenders in history have been prompted less by the damage already absorbed than by fears of the damage to come.

And China is not the only foe or rival whose calculations are complicating this new cyber world. Iran is another. Last summer, all of a sudden, a computer virus nicknamed Shamoon erased three-quarters of the Aramco oil company’s corporate files, replacing much of it with images of a burning American flag. It is widely believed that the Iranians planted the “kill switch” in retaliation for the U.S.-Israeli Stuxnet virus that disabled the centrifuges in their nuclear program


The implicit message sent not only to the United States but also, and perhaps more importantly, to its Arab commercial partners: Don’t mess with us, or we will mess with you. The Shamoon virus is now regarded as the hint of another consequence that we’d likely face in the aftermath of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Will it deter such a strike or serve as the final straw in a pile of risks that deters us from striking (or deters the West’s Arab allies from playing whatever part they might play in an attack)? Hard to say, but the Iranians probably intended the virus to have that effect.


So, what to do about all this?

The basic task is to dissuade potential foes from thinking that they would gain escalation-dominance by launching, or having the ability to launch, a cyberattack on America’s infrastructure.

A popular notion of how to do this is to threaten “retaliation in kind”—or, taking a phrase from the nuclear-deterrence playbook, “mutual assured destruction.” This threat has its place in cyberwar but also its limits, because the United States is far more dependent on computer networks, in every aspect of its national security and its daily economic life, than China, Iran, or any other prospective foe or rival. Retaliation in kind might not serve as a sufficient deterrent because it would inflict much less damage on them than their first strike would inflict on us.

A better, but much harder, way is to defend the critical infrastructure in the first place. There are limits to this, too. First, we’re in too deep; we can’t untether our economy from the Internet any more than we can detour all road traffic off the interstate. Second, there is no such thing as a perfect defense; if well-funded, well-trained predators want to get in, they will get in. Still, there are ways to wall off or split up the most critical segments of infrastructure—and to monitor further efforts to break in. If they haven’t already, the private companies responsible for this infrastructure should start to take these steps immediately.




That is the point behind President Obama’s recent executive order on cybersecurity. In recent years, Congress has rejected bills requiring Internet service providers to follow government standards on security for various reasons, many of them legitimate. The executive order at least allows government agencies to share information with ISPs, some of it classified, on how to meet these standards themselves. It’s a good first step.

But there’s another way to stave off the danger of cyberwar, and that’s diplomacy.

In his extremely important 2010 book Cyber War, Richard Clarke likened the current era to the decade after the first atomic bombs, when American, then Soviet, scientists built these weapons of enormous destructiveness—but before politicians or strategists devised ways of thinking about them rationally: how to control them, deter their use, or limit their damage if a war couldn’t be deterred.


It’s time to move on to the next era, when this sort of thinking did occur, not just in secretive research tanks but also in open discussions and international negotiations. Clarke, who was chief of counterterrorism and cybersecurity for Presidents Clinton and Bush, spells out ways that concepts from nuclear arms control—inspections and verification, no first use, and ideas from other accords, including the Geneva Conventions—might be applied to cyberweapons.

In any case, it’s sheer silliness, at this point, to keep cyber issues off the table for fear of upsetting the sensitivities of Chinese officials (who deny that they have offensive cyberwarfare programs) and thus possibly triggering a diplomatic crisis. A crisis already looms from all sides of the globe; the United States, after all, has an offensive cyberwarfare program, too. Best to deal with it head-on, and soon.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

New technique developed

to identify authors of anonymous emails

By Darren Quick

21:58 March 8, 2011

Concordia University professor, Benjamin Fung, has developed an effective new technique to...

Concordia University professor, Benjamin Fung, has developed an effective new technique to determine the authorship of anonymous emails (Image: Concordia University)

There might be many harmless reasons for sending anonymous emails – confessing your undying love for someone, seeking anonymous advice, or simply playing a joke on a friend – but there are also plenty of harmful reasons – making threats against someone, distributing child pornography or sending viruses, just to name a few. While police can often use the IP address to locate where an email originated, it may be harder to nail down exactly who sent it. A team of researchers claims to have developed an effective new technique to determine the authorship of anonymous emails that can provide presentable evidence in courts of law.

In an attempt to combat the increase of cybercrimes involving anonymous emails, Benjamin Fung, a professor of Information Systems Engineering at Quebec’sConcordia University and an expert in data mining, and his colleagues set about developing a novel method of authorship attribution based on techniques used in speech recognition and data mining, which involves extracting useful, previously unknown knowledge from a large volume of raw data. Their approach relies on identifying frequent patterns and unique combinations of features that recur in a suspect’s emails.

The technique works by first identifying the patterns found in emails written by the subject. Any of these patterns which are also found in the emails of other subjects are then filtered out, leaving patterns that are unique to the author of the emails being analyzed. These remaining frequent patterns then constitute what the researchers call the suspect’s ‘write-print’ – a distinctive identifier akin to a fingerprint.

“Let’s say the anonymous email contains typos or grammatical mistakes, or is written entirely in lowercase letters,” says Fung. “We use those special characteristics to create a write-print. Using this method, we can even determine with a high degree of accuracy who wrote a given email, and infer the gender, nationality and education level of the author.”

Fung and his colleagues tested their technique by examining the Enron Email Dataset – a collection containing over 200,000 real-life emails from 158 employees of the Enron Corporation. Using a sample of 10 emails written by each of 10 subjects – 100 emails in all – they were able to identify authorship with an accuracy of 80 to 90 percent.

“Our technique was designed to provide credible evidence that can be presented in a court of law,” says Fung. “For evidence to be admissible, investigators need to explain how they have reached their conclusions. Our method allows them to do this.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Assange in crosshairs of Congress

Ewen MacAskill

January 5, 2011

Julian Assange ... in southern England last month.
Julian Assange … in southern England last month. Photo: Reuters

The Republican Party in the USA is planning a congressional inquiry into WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

The party, which was due to wrest control of the house today, has included WikiLeaks in a list of high priorities for investigation.

The move is partly political, aimed at the Attorney-General, Eric Holder, who the Republicans claim has been too slow and too lethargic in reacting to the leaks. Last month he said the Justice Department was looking at what action could be taken against Mr Assange but that lawyers were struggling to find applicable legislation under which the Australian national could be prosecuted.

Darrell Issa, who will take over as chairman of the House of Representatives oversight committee and is calling for Mr Holder’s resignation, said of Mr Assange in an interview on Sunday: ”If the President says, ‘I can’t deal with this guy as a terrorist,’ then he has to be able to deal with him as a criminal. Otherwise the world is laughing at this ineffective paper tiger we’ve become.”

On Monday the Politico website published areas Mr Issa’s committee intends to investigate, including WikiLeaks.

The committee, whose remit covers fraud and waste, can subpoena witnesses from the highest reaches of political life. Hearings could begin in the next few weeks.

Mr Issa said his committee would investigate WikiLeaks ”so the diplomats can do their job with confidence and people can talk to & interact with our government in confidence”.

The new Congress would have to introduve legislature to try to prevent similar acts of whistleblowing.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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Newspaper in Norway says

it has all WikiLeaks data

December 24, 2010

A Norwegian newspaper says it has obtained the entire trove of 250,000 uncensored US diplomatic documents that WikiLeaks has been distributing.

The announcement appears to make Aftenposten the first media organisation outside WikiLeaks’ five partners to obtain the material – a development sure to heighten US government fears that the public release of some uncensored diplomatic cables could endanger informants’ lives. 

So far WikiLeaks has released about 1,900 of the more than 250,000 State Department documents it claims to possess, many of them containing critical or embarrassing US assessments of foreign nations and their leaders. The documents are also being published by The New York Times, France’s Le Monde, Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Managing editor Ole Erik Almlid said Aftenposten has no restrictions on how to use the material, and will be publishing articles about the US documents that it finds relevant in its online and paper editions.

Aftenposten will also post parts of some of the original documents on its website, redacting sensitive information such as names if needed, Almlid told The Associated Press.

“We have received these documents … without restrictions and without paying anything for it,” Almlid said, declining to say exactly how the paper obtained the material. “We never reveal our sources.”

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of classified US military documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has not been charged in connection with leaked documents but was jailed in England this month after two women in Sweden accused him of sex crimes, including rape. He was freed on bail last week and is confined to a supporter’s country estate in Britain while he fights extradition to Sweden, where authorities want to question him in the sex crimes inquiry.

It is not known who sent the US documents to WikiLeaks.

A US solider, Pfc. Bradley Manning, was charged in July with leaking classified material, including video posted by WikiLeaks of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver. Manning is now in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

IS CHEATING IN GAMES OK?

A new meaning to keeping your eye on the ball

USE YOUR PHONE TO CONTROL THE BALL

Entrepreneur’s Edge: Orbotix (1:58)

Reuters Small Business presents expansion pitches from upstarts across the country. Robotic gaming startup Orbotix has developed technology that lets people control a ball with their smartphone. Here’s the pitch:

Video

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

More to come, vows defiant Assange

Tom Wald, London

December 18, 2010

WikiLeaks’ Assange free on bail

London’s High Court upholds bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, freeing him to direct WikiLeaks’ operations from a mansion in England.

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange, now under ”mansion arrest” at a stately home in the British countryside, says his time in a south London jail has only made him more determined to continue his secret-spilling work.

”It has not altered my position; in fact, it has confirmed my position to me personally that we are on the right path. It has given me enough anger about the situation to last me 100 years.”

His strong rhetoric came just moments before he entered the plush Ellingham Hall after being granted conditional bail at the High Court in London on Thursday.

Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations made by two women but said his main fear was being handed over to US authorities.

The 39-year-old Australian has become a hate figure in Washington over his website’s release of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables containing embarrassing revelations.

”I do not have too many fears about being extradited to Sweden,” he said.

”I have much bigger concerns about being extradited to the United States.

”We had a rumour today from my lawyer in the United States that there has been an indictment made against me in the United States. I have not had that confirmed.”

Looking tired after being locked up for 23½ hours a day at Wandsworth Prison for the past week and a half, he said the US administration’s attempts to bring down him and his website were out of line.

”I think it is clear it is not a path that is acceptable to the world community,” he said. ”Certainly not acceptable to the people of Australia or the people of Great Britain and to a large degree, not acceptable to the people of Sweden as well, although the administrators are a different matter.”

After being shut off from the world in jail, Assange was informed he had a ”good internet connection” to work with at the 10-bedroom residence owned by independent journalism campaigner and supporter Vaughan Smith.

”We have seen in my week away my team is robust and we continue to publish in a successful manner … that is not to underestimate the risks associated to all of us,” Assange said.

While at the mansion, he must observe a curfew and be tagged.

He will have to report daily to a police station, and £200,000 ($A315,000) in security, raised by his supporters, has been paid into the court.

Earlier Mr Justice Ouseley of the High Court warned Assange that he was almost certain to be extradited to Sweden to face sex assault allegations.

The court refused an attempt by the Crown Prosecution Service to stop Assange being freed but imposed tougher bail conditions than previously outlined by a lower court.

His release was delayed for four hours because of confusion over the payment of sureties as a who’s who of freedom of speech campaigners – including Nobel prize winners, British peers, former ministers, journalist Phillip Knightley and millionaire publisher Felix Dennis – visited police stations and magistrates courts to pay their cash but encountered officers ignorant of procedure.

There is a growing consensus among US constitutional lawyers and other legal experts that Assange will be indicted by Washington.

After his release he said that even if he were indicted in the US, the spilling of state secrets would continue.

AAP, GUARDIAN, with PAOLA TOTARO

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Has WikiLeaks

landed in cyberattack crosshairs?

Forget China or Al Qaeda. In a twist that would have been inconceivable even a few months ago, the WikiLeaks.org Web site is being proposed as the first public target for a U.S. government cyberattack.

After the shadowy, document-leaking organization distributed nearly 400,000 classified documents from the Iraq war on Friday, Washington officialdom responded with a torrent of denunciations alleging violations of national security and endangering U.S. military operations.

WikiLeaks

In a rare point of congruence, The Washington Post and The Washington Times both criticized the release, with the smaller paper arguing that WikiLeaks’ offshore Web site should be attacked and rendered “inoperable” by the U.S. government. Some hawkish conservatives followed suit, including Christian Whiton, a State Department adviser under President George W. Bush, who wrote a column calling on the U.S. military to “electronically assault WikiLeaks and any telecommunications company offering its services to this organization.”

Their target’s actually not that far away. WikiLeaks’ Web site is now hosted on Amazon.com servers on United States soil near San Jose, Calif.

The tech-savvy activists are taking advantages of the popular Amazon Web Services platform, described as offering “massive compute capacity and storage” that is automatically ramped up as more and more people connect to a Web site–a perfect fit for a group that had anticipated a deluge of traffic.

To be precise, the WikiLeaks.org domain name has been configured to point to three different Internet Protocol (IP) addresses: Amazon in the United States, Amazon in Ireland, and an address owned by Octopuce in France. Octopuce provides hosting for free-software enthusiasts and France’s Big Brother Awards. (Netcraft’s toolbar explains the situation well.)

An Amazon spokeswoman contacted yesterday morning did not respond to multiple inquiries. A Pentagon representative said yesterday he had no immediate response, and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said only: “We continue to assist the Defense Department in its investigation into the leak of classified information to WikiLeaks.”

To be sure, calls for the forcible muzzling of WikiLeaks also happened in July, when WikiLeaks posted secret military dispatches from the Afghanistan war. Conservative commentator Liz Cheney, for instance, said: “I would really like to see President Obama move to ask the government of Iceland to shut that Web site down. I’d like to see him move to shut it down ourselves if Iceland won’t do it.” At the time, WikiLeaks.org was hosted on a server in Sweden.

After the release of the Iraq files, though, the suggestions for an electronic offensive against the organization and its public face, Julian Assange, have become more pointed.

‘Waging war on WikiLeaks’
The Washington Times said in an editorial that WikiLeaks is now a “threat to U.S. national security” and “should be treated accordingly.” The U.S. government “should be waging war on the WikiLeaks Web presence,” it advised.

“The WikiLeaks folks seem to have done a good job of distributing and encrypting their data, so cyberattacks would be pointless. They’d have no effect. We’d have better luck making fun of the WikiLeaks messiah, who seems a bit strange.”

–James Lewis, senior fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Marc Thiessen, a President George W. Bush speechwriter and visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, suggested that: “Because Assange is a non-U.S. citizen operating outside the territory of the United States, the government could employ not only law enforcement but also intelligence and military assets–such as U.S. Cyber Command–to put his criminal syndicate out of business and bring Assange to justice.”

James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that a cyberattack against WikiLeaks would be futile and that Assange personally would be a better target.

“The WikiLeaks folks seem to have done a good job of distributing and encrypting their data, so cyberattacks would be pointless,” Lewis told CNET yesterday. “They’d have no effect. We’d have better luck making fun of the WikiLeaks messiah, who seems a bit strange.”

And in fact, WikiLeaks does have a series of mirror sites ready to go, including WikiLeaks.fr (hosted by famously pro-free speech registrar Gandi.net), and WikiLeaks.se, WikiLeaks.de, WikiLeaks.nl, and WikiLeaks.is (all currently hosted in Sweden, though this could be easily changed).

If the U.S. government does begin an electronic attack on WikiLeaks, the military’s new Cyber Command would be one candidate to undertake it. The new organization is charged with allowing the U.S. armed forces to conduct “full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains,” which includes destroying electronic infrastructure as thoroughly as a B-2 bomber would level a power plant.

So far, the United States government has been cagey, even reticent, about publicly discussing its offensive capabilities.

Two years ago, President Bush signed the secret National Security Presidential Directive 54, which was later revealed to include “offensive” elements. Earlier this year, when a congressional committee asked Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, now the head of the NSA and Cyber Command, about the possibility of conducting “tactical” and “operational” offensive operations, he said (PDF) he could answer that question only in a classified setting.

A National Research Council report on the technology, law, and ethics of cyberattack said that “today’s policy and legal framework for guiding and regulating the U.S. use of cyberattack is ill-formed, undeveloped, and highly uncertain.” It also suggested that the United States’ highly classified cyberattack capabilities are “likely more powerful” than “those demonstrated by the most sophisticated cyberattacks perpetrated by cybercriminals.”

In August, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell left open the possibility of offensive action against WikiLeaks. “If it requires compelling them to do anything, then we will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing,” he said. (The Obama administration has reportedly concluded that WikiLeaks violated U.S. law even before the Iraq leak.)

And this week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a note out through Twitter saying: “Another irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by WikiLeaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries valuable information.”

Questions about diplomatic concerns and international law aside, the problem of successfully attacking a Web site in another country is not a trivial one to solve. It’s reasonable to assume that the U.S. military has been able to find undocumented backdoors in popular operating systems and Web servers (schools like the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., have classified computer labs that appear to work on precisely those topics).

But would the Pentagon want to risk exposing those abilities to shutter WikiLeaks temporarily, only to have the same files be mirrored moments later on BitTorrent and innumerable other Web sites?

That seems unlikely. After all, as Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of the First Marine Division, said yesterday in a teleconference from Afghanistan: “As far as the WikiLeaks, that really has had no impact at all on us.”

Update 3 p.m. PDT: Wikileaks.org appears to have ceased hosting documents inside the United States. Its DNS entry no longer points to Amazon.com servers in San Jose (it continues to point to Amazon Ireland and the French hosting service). Yesterday’s 204.236.131.131 IP address has been removed. It’s unclear why WikiLeaks has made this change–it may be as a result of this article–but now the DNS entries for Warlogs.wikileaks.org and Wikileaks.org are the same

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Anger at ‘slave trader’ Assange:

WikiLeaks loyalists decide to break away

Asher Moses

December 10, 2010 – 11:02AM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his former right-hand man, Daniel Domschelt-Berg aka. Daniel Schmitt.WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his former right-hand man, Daniel Domschelt-Berg aka. Daniel Schmitt.

A number of WikiLeaks defectors, including founder Julian Assange’s former right-hand man, plan to launch a rival site on Monday after accusing Mr Assange of behaving like “some kind of emperor or slave trader”.

With WikiLeaks itself vowing to press on with its leaking regardless of the fate of Mr Assange, it seems that any attempts by US politicians to stop the leaks will be futile.

The new site, Openleaks, will launch on Monday, respected Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. Like WikiLeaks, it will allow whistleblowers to leak information to the public anonymously. However, Openleaks won’t host the documents itself, instead acting as an intermediary between whistleblowers and other groups including media organisations.

Several WikiLeaks members abandoned the site following perceived autocratic behaviour by Mr Assange. They said he failed to consult them on many decisions and put himself front and centre of everything WikiLeaks did.

Some members were also concerned that the Swedish rape allegations against Mr Assange were damaging the organisation’s reputation. Dagens Nyheter reported that insiders were sabotaging the site earlier this year in order to convince Mr Assange to step down.

The new site, one member said, would be “democratically governed by all its members, rather than limited to one group or individual”.

“We broke from WikiLeaks because a few ex-WikiLeaks members have been very unhappy with the way Assange was conducting things,” said former WikiLeaks member and key player in the new site, Herbert Snorrason.

‘You’re not anyone’s king or god’

The most high-profile defector is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who went by the name Daniel Schmitt at WikiLeaks and served as one of its only public faces aside from Mr Assange.

Mr Domscheit-Berg resigned from the organisation this year after WikiLeaks released almost 400,000 classified US documents relating to the Iraq war. He, and other WikiLeaks members, felt Mr Assange released the documents too early without taking the time to properly redact names of US collaborators and informants in Iraq.

“You are not anyone’s king or god,” Mr Domscheit-Berg told Mr Assange in an online chat, a transcript of which was obtained and published by Wired.com.

“And you’re not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader.”

Mr Assange shot back, saying he was suspending Mr Domscheit-Berg for a month and that if he wanted to appeal, “you will be heard on Tuesday”.

Mr Domschelt-Berg instead resigned and will now be a key player in the new site.

Got a problem? Piss off

Mr Snorrason also left after he challenged Mr Assange’s decision to suspend Mr Domscheit-Berg. Mr Assange responded saying: “I am the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, piss off.”

Mr Domscheit-Berg is writing a tell-all book on his three years at WikiLeaks, titled Inside WikiLeaks: My Time at the World’s Most Dangerous Website.

In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel Mr Domscheit-Berg criticised WikiLeaks for focusing too much on the US and said the new site would have a far broader focus.

Ben Laurie, a data security expert who advised WikiLeaks before it launched in 2006, said the site had opened a Pandora’s box of leaking and, even if it was taken out, the idea would live on.

“The concept is not going to die. It’s really hard to keep things shut down if they want to stay up,” he said.

“Look at everything else people would like not to happen online – phishing, spam, porn. It’s all still there.”

World leaders support Assange

Meanwhile, Mr Assange remains remanded in custody in Britain pending proceedings to extradite him to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.

Revelations embarrassing to governments all over the world, divined from the hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables leaked by Mr Assange, continue to be published by media organisations.

Vladimir Putin has led a growing band of international leaders voicing support for Mr Assange, describing his detention in Britain as “undemocratic”.

The Russian Prime Minister’s broadside came as hackers escalated their cyber war on opponents of the whistleblower website, setting their sights on Amazon.com.

The move appeared to be part of a developing tit-for-tat cyber conflict targeting companies in reprisal for withdrawing from doing business with WikiLeaks. Amazon last week booted WikiLeaks off its servers, saying the company had violated its terms of service.

Visa, Mastercard and PayPal earlier suffered disruption to their websites in retaliation for their decision to stop accepting payments for the whistleblower.

Dutch police have arrested a 16-year-old who they say admitted to staging attacks on the Visa and Mastercard sites.

Sourced & publishd by Henry Sapiecha

Anger at ‘slave trader’ Assange:

WikiLeaks loyalists decide to break away

Asher Moses

December 10, 2010 – 11:02AM

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his former right-hand man, Daniel Domschelt-Berg aka. Daniel Schmitt.WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his former right-hand man, Daniel Domschelt-Berg aka. Daniel Schmitt.

A number of WikiLeaks defectors, including founder Julian Assange’s former right-hand man, plan to launch a rival site on Monday after accusing Mr Assange of behaving like “some kind of emperor or slave trader”.

With WikiLeaks itself vowing to press on with its leaking regardless of the fate of Mr Assange, it seems that any attempts by US politicians to stop the leaks will be futile.

The new site, Openleaks, will launch on Monday, respected Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. Like WikiLeaks, it will allow whistleblowers to leak information to the public anonymously. However, Openleaks won’t host the documents itself, instead acting as an intermediary between whistleblowers and other groups including media organisations.

Several WikiLeaks members abandoned the site following perceived autocratic behaviour by Mr Assange. They said he failed to consult them on many decisions and put himself front and centre of everything WikiLeaks did.

Some members were also concerned that the Swedish rape allegations against Mr Assange were damaging the organisation’s reputation. Dagens Nyheter reported that insiders were sabotaging the site earlier this year in order to convince Mr Assange to step down.

The new site, one member said, would be “democratically governed by all its members, rather than limited to one group or individual”.

“We broke from WikiLeaks because a few ex-WikiLeaks members have been very unhappy with the way Assange was conducting things,” said former WikiLeaks member and key player in the new site, Herbert Snorrason.

‘You’re not anyone’s king or god’

The most high-profile defector is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who went by the name Daniel Schmitt at WikiLeaks and served as one of its only public faces aside from Mr Assange.

Mr Domscheit-Berg resigned from the organisation this year after WikiLeaks released almost 400,000 classified US documents relating to the Iraq war. He, and other WikiLeaks members, felt Mr Assange released the documents too early without taking the time to properly redact names of US collaborators and informants in Iraq.

“You are not anyone’s king or god,” Mr Domscheit-Berg told Mr Assange in an online chat, a transcript of which was obtained and published by Wired.com.

“And you’re not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader.”

Mr Assange shot back, saying he was suspending Mr Domscheit-Berg for a month and that if he wanted to appeal, “you will be heard on Tuesday”.

Mr Domschelt-Berg instead resigned and will now be a key player in the new site.

Got a problem? Piss off

Mr Snorrason also left after he challenged Mr Assange’s decision to suspend Mr Domscheit-Berg. Mr Assange responded saying: “I am the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier and all the rest. If you have a problem with me, piss off.”

Mr Domscheit-Berg is writing a tell-all book on his three years at WikiLeaks, titled Inside WikiLeaks: My Time at the World’s Most Dangerous Website.

In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel Mr Domscheit-Berg criticised WikiLeaks for focusing too much on the US and said the new site would have a far broader focus.

Ben Laurie, a data security expert who advised WikiLeaks before it launched in 2006, said the site had opened a Pandora’s box of leaking and, even if it was taken out, the idea would live on.

“The concept is not going to die. It’s really hard to keep things shut down if they want to stay up,” he said.

“Look at everything else people would like not to happen online – phishing, spam, porn. It’s all still there.”

World leaders support Assange

Meanwhile, Mr Assange remains remanded in custody in Britain pending proceedings to extradite him to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.

Revelations embarrassing to governments all over the world, divined from the hundreds of thousands of US State Department cables leaked by Mr Assange, continue to be published by media organisations.

Vladimir Putin has led a growing band of international leaders voicing support for Mr Assange, describing his detention in Britain as “undemocratic”.

The Russian Prime Minister’s broadside came as hackers escalated their cyber war on opponents of the whistleblower website, setting their sights on Amazon.com.

The move appeared to be part of a developing tit-for-tat cyber conflict targeting companies in reprisal for withdrawing from doing business with WikiLeaks. Amazon last week booted WikiLeaks off its servers, saying the company had violated its terms of service.

Visa, Mastercard and PayPal earlier suffered disruption to their websites in retaliation for their decision to stop accepting payments for the whistleblower.

Dutch police have arrested a 16-year-old who they say admitted to staging attacks on the Visa and Mastercard sites.

Sourced & publishd by Henry Sapiecha

Assange supporters bring down

Visa, MasterCard sites

December 9, 2010 – 8:31AM

A group of WikiLeaks supporters is claiming to have crashed credit card giant Visa’s website, hours after a similar attack on MasterCard.

The group, which calls itself Anonymous, claimed responsibility on a Twitter feed and elsewhere.

The two-pronged attack came as both companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks on Tuesday.

Access to both sites was intermittent this morning.

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Chatter on the 4chan.org bulletin board, a site frequented by Anonymous posters, suggested that online payment service PayPal might be the next target, or the New York Stock Exchange, or Twitter, which suspended the account used for the Anonymous operations. PayPal also suspended WikiLeaks’s accounts used to collect donations.

Visa acknowledged the cyber attack on its website and reassured cardholders that no customer data had been put at risk.

“Visa’s corporate website – Visa.com – is currently experiencing heavier than normal traffic,” said the company in a statement. “The company is taking steps to restore the site to full operations within the next few hours.”

Visa said its processing network that handled cardholder transactions was functioning normally.

“Cardholders can continue to use their cards as they routinely would,” Visa said. “Account data is not at risk.”

Earlier, the Swedish prosecutor’s office came under cyber attack as WikiLeaks supporters vowed to retaliate for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The Swedish prosecution authority, whose arrest order for Mr Assange over accusations of sexual offences led a British court to remand the 39-year-old in custody, said it had reported the online attack to police.

“Of course, it’s easy to think it has a connection with WikiLeaks but we can’t confirm that,” prosecution authority web editor Fredrik Berg told Reuters Television.

Assange supporters also went for the corporate website of credit card firm MasterCard in apparent retaliation for its blocking of donations to the WikiLeaks website.

“We are glad to tell you that http://www.mastercard.com/ is down and it’s confirmed!” said an entry on the ‘AnonOps’ Twitter feed of Anonymous, which says it fights against censorship and “copywrong”.

Mark Stephens, Mr Assange’s principal lawyer in London, denied that the WikiLeaks founder had ordered the cyber strikes. Mr Assange “did not give instructions to hack” the company websites, Stephens told Reuters.

‘Concentrated effort’

MasterCard said its systems had not been compromised by what it called “a concentrated effort to flood our corporate web site with traffic and slow access”.

“We are working to restore normal service levels,” the company said in a statement. “It is important to note that our systems have not been compromised and there is no impact on our cardholders’ ability to use their cards for secure transactions globally.”

Mr Assange spent the night in a British jail and will appear for a hearing on December 14.

Mr Assange, who has lived periodically in Sweden, was accused this year of sexual misconduct by two female Swedish WikiLeaks volunteers. The pair’s lawyer said their claims were not a politically motivated plot against Mr Assange.

“It has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA,” said lawyer Claes Borgstrom, whose website also came under cyber attack, according to officials.

Mr Assange has angered US authorities and triggered headlines worldwide by publishing the secret cables.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the people who originally leaked the documents, not Mr Assange, were legally liable and the leaks raised questions over the “adequacy” of US security.

“Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network,” Rudd told Reuters in an interview.

“The Americans are responsible for that,” said Rudd, described in one leaked US cable as a “control freak”.

US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley conceded that “the fundamental responsibility for the leak rests inside the US government where we believe a crime has been committed”.

“But just as clearly, what Julian Assange is doing by releasing these classified documents is putting real lives and real interests at risk,” Crowley said in an e-mail message.

Carry on

WikiLeaks vowed it would continue making public details of the confidential US cables. Only a fraction of them have been published so far.

Mr Assange has become the public face of WikiLeaks, hailed by supporters including campaigning Australian journalist John Pilger and British film maker Ken Loach as a defender of free speech, but he is now battling to clear his name.

Some supporters appear to want to help him. While most denial of service attacks involve botnets, programs that hijack computers and use them to target individual websites and bring them down, the current cyber attacks seem to be different.

“In this case… they seem to be using their own computers,” he said. Asked what that said about how many individuals might be involved: “Probably hundreds at the least, could be thousands,” said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of Finnish software security firm F-Secure.

PayPal said it had acted at the behest of the US government.

“On November 27th, the State Department, the US government basically, wrote a letter saying that the WikiLeaks activities were deemed illegal in the United States and as a result our policy group had to make the decision of suspending the account,” Osama Bedier, PayPal’s vice president of platform and emerging technology, told a conference in Paris.

Swiss PostFinance, the banking arm of state-owned Swiss Post, which also closed a WikiLeaks donation account, said it had taken countermeasures and an earlier wave of cyber attacks appeared to be waning.

“The community around Julian Assange have said ‘we’re leaving it now, we’ve shown what we can do,'” PostFinance spokesman Alex Josty said.

New revelations continue

The latest cables, reported in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi made threats to cut trade with Britain and warned of “enormous repercussions” if the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing died in a Scottish jail. He was freed in August 2009.

WikiLeaks also released cables on Wednesday that showed Saudi Arabia proposed an “Arab army” be deployed in Lebanon, with US air and naval cover, to stop Shi’ite Hezbollah militia after it seized control of parts of Beirut in 2008.

Like many of the cables, the disclosures give an insight into diplomacy which is normally screened from public view.

The original source of the leaked cables is not known, though a US army private, Bradley Manning, who worked as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, has been charged by military authorities with unauthorized downloading of more than 150,000 State Department cables.

US officials have declined to say whether those cables are the same ones now being released by WikiLeaks.

Reuters with AP and Chris Zappone, BusinessDay

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha

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