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WikiLeaks taken out by sustained 10GB/sec DDoS attack

The stated aim of Anti Leaks is to protest against Julian Assange’s attempt to gain political asylum in Ecuador. On the same day as it commenced its attack on WikiLeaks, the group also proclaimed tango down on the site of the Presidency of Ecuador. At the time of writing, that site is available while WikiLeaks remains down. The size, duration, effectiveness and timing of the Anti Leaks attack on WikiLeaks is raising questions among security professionals.

Anti Leaks describes itself as a group of “young adults, citizens of the United States of America.” The first question, for which there is no immediate answer, is can a new hacking group come from nowhere and mount a sustained 10 GB/sec DDoS attack (it’s now in its tenth day) against a high profile site like WikiLeaks?

The second question concerns the true motivation for the attack. WikiLeaks is in the process of releasing emails stolen by Anonymous from Stratfor at the end of last year. These emails include new information about the TrapWire system developed by Abraxas and now apparently in increasing use by law enforcement across America. It is suggested that the timing of the Anti Leaks attack is designed to prevent the widespread dissemination of this information – a suggestion that gains some credence from the apparent disconnection of the Abraxasapps website.

TrapWire is a surveillance system that links IP CCTV cameras across the country with facial recognition and data analytics (and, according to Anonymous, online social media monitoring). One of the leaked emails suggests that it includes London. The analytics looks for ‘suspicious’ behavior (such as taking photographs) that could be a precursor to terrorist or criminal activity.

According to the Abraxas website (before it was removed), TrapWire Law Enforcement “provides the ability to gather, analyze and disseminate information about surveillance and logistical activities occurring across an entire geographic region.” It is also capable of integrating multiple geographic regions.

Anonymous clearly believes that the attack on WikiLeaks is designed to suppress the Stratfor emails. Yesterday, it and the Peoples Liberation Front (PLF) announced ‘Operation TrapWire’. “We will find, hack – and destroy the servers where the AI ‘electronic brain’ of this program is housed.”