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WikiLeaks: let the DDoS battles begin

06 December 2010

December is rapidly turning into a festival of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on WikiLeaks and a number of sites looking to distance themselves from the high-profile government reporting portal.

In fact, according to Sean-Paul Correll, a threat researcher with Panda Security, the WikiLeaks-led surge in DDoS attacks is a significant one so far this month.

Correll – aka Lithium on Twitter – says that, just a few days ago, a hacktivist operating under the handle of 'th3j35t3r' decided to single-handedly take down the WikiLeaks website with a DDoS tool of his own creation.

"He issued a statement on Twitter shortly after explaining that the attacks against the WikiLeaks website were made for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, other assets & foreign relations", he said.

According to Correll’s analysis, the DDoS attacks resulted in 1 day 3 hours and 50 minutes of downtime for WikiLeaks before the site was completely yanked offline by Amazon and EveryDNS.

And on the other side of the attack spectrum, the anonymous attackers involved in 'Operation: Payback' have vowed to take a temporary break from their mega-assault on the entertainment industry in order to spend some time helping WikiLeaks.

"Their first attack has been set on PayPal, after the US-based company closed its doors on WikiLeaks citing an AUP violation", he said in his security blog.

"Shortly after the PayPal announcement, Anonymous decided that the PayPal Blog would be its first DDoS target in Wikileaks related counterattacks", he added.

Correll went on to say that the ThePayPalBlog.com was down as of noon UK time on Saturday and showed no sign of coming back online anytime soon.

The organisers of Anonymous had this to say in regards to the temporary switch in focus:

"While we don't have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same: we want transparency (in our case in copyright) and we counter censorship. The attempts to silence WikiLeaks are long strides closer to a world where we can not say what we think and not express how we feel."

"We cannot let this happen, that is why we will find out who is attacking WikiLeaks and with that find out who tries to control our world. What are we going to do when we [find] them? Except for the usual DDoSing, word will be spread that whoever tries to silence or discourage WikiLeaks, favours world domination rather than freedom and democracy", Anonymous added.

Whilst it's easy to take sides in the WikiLeaks saga, the most interesting aspect of the DDoS attacks is their ability to effectively shut down such major portals, Infosecurity notes.

The big question that most observers are asking – and one that will almost certainly be revealed after the current spate of attacks – is how the people behind the DDoS attacks are staging them.

Some security forums are suggesting that the DDoS attacks against PayPal are being orchestrated through the control of a large botnet, although the reports are – inevitably – unsubstantiated.

This article is featured in:
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery  •  Compliance and Policy  •  Internet and Network Security

 

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