The Hacker War Over WikiLeaks Rages On

By Andrew Moseman | December 7, 2010 11:08 am

WikiLeaks-LogoToday WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, wanted in connection with sex-related charges in Sweden, turned himself in to the police in London. And while Assange’s personal troubles escalate, so does the online war over WikiLeaks.

Last week came the cyber attack against, which hacker “Jester” claimed to have organized.

On his blog, Jester describes himself as a”hacktivist for good” and someone who is “obstructing the lines of communication for terrorists, sympathizers, fixers, facilitators, oppressive regimes and other general bad guys.” [Los Angeles Times]

That disrupted the site’s operation and left WikiLeaks scrambling. But this week the tide of hacking has turned: Hackers operating under the names Operation Payback or Anonymous are targeting sites that have withdrawn support from WikiLeaks during the current controversy.

Noa Bar Yossef, senior security strategist for Imperva, commented via e-mail to say, “Operation Payback’s goal is not hacking for profit. In the classical external hacker case we see hackers grab information from wherever they can and monetize on it. In this case though, the hackers’ goal is to cripple a service, disrupt services, protest their cause and cause humiliation. In fact, what we see here is a very focused attack – knocking the servers offline due to so-called ‘hacker injustice’.” [PC World]

One of those distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks targeted PayPal, which went down for hours on Saturday. The site was one way for donors to support WikiLeaks financially, but PayPal shut off payments (MasterCard and Visa have now done the same). The bank in Switzerland that froze Assange’s assets, PostFinance, endured a cyber attack, too.

And then anti-WikiLeaks forces struck back.

Meanwhile,, a site used by Anonymous to announce their attack plans, came under a massive DDOS attack earlier on Monday, apparently by those opposed to WikiLeaks. In an ironic twist, users attempting to reach the site were being redirected to PostFinance’s Website late Monday evening. [Computer World]

The companies that have cut off relationships with WikiLeaks have argued that their rules prohibit customers from engaging in or facilitating illegal activities–but WikiLeaks supporters say these companies are just giving in to government pressure. Et tu, Twitter? Amid all the allegations, even the microblogging platform has come under fire.

Twitter has also come under criticism from some who believe the microblogging site may be censoring trends devoted to WikiLeaks. Twitter trends reveal the most popular topics being tweeted. But Web site blogs such as OSNews, OSDir, Safety First, and have reported findings that terms such as #wikileaks and #Assange have not been trending nearly as heavily as they should given the amount of news and discussions surrounding WikiLeaks. In response to such criticism, someone identifying himself as Twitter engineer Josh Elman e-mailed Angus Johnston of the site to defend his company saying that “Twitter hasn’t modified trends in any way to help or prevent WikiLeaks from trending.” [CNET]

While WikiLeaks searches for ways to acquire funding and survive, it appears that at least its data is safe: WikiLeaks’ call for sites to mirror its content has yielded mirror sites in the hundreds, making it nearly impossible—if not impossible—to target them all.

Related Content:
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  • Darius2025

    So, is Assange the good guy here?
    I’m not sure i’m informed enough to speculate or form an opionion. I’m currious what other readers think. All these legal issues just sound like good old propaganda to me, however.

  • Ziyonex

    Anonymous will not stop.
    Long live Wikileaks.

  • Superman

    They retracted the charges, update your outdated blog!

  • nick

    Remember, Wikileaks doesn’t only leak documents against the US government. They have exposed corruption and lies everywhere. Will give you nice little soundbites on what corruption they have exposed, along with links to the journalistic articles reporting on those actions.

  • Yes, I am right.

    Wikileaks is a good thing, however when they post things about governments that don’t hurt people in anyway, then wikileaks has gone too far.

  • Patriot

    Didnt Wikileaks got Many Awards for exposing third world governments last year? Didnt they get Standing Ovation from our own mainstream Media with NYT calling them the future of Journalism? But once Its our turn they are Bad. Wasnt Nelson Mandela classified as Terrorist by State Dept.? I dont blame our govt for its actions. Its embarassingly stupidity of our people to follow hook, line and sinker everything they are fed … we are like Uncle Sams foot soldiers.
    Let me see, this confidential materials are coming from our own embassies and posted on wiki by our own moles…
    Get a grip will you..

  • Amalfi

    It’s pretty obvious that Twitter is indeed censoring wikileaks from the trending feed. Just search for wikileaks in mentions. There is a flood of mentions. “Press Freedom” is trending, but every tweet mentions wikileaks. The folks at Twitter must think we’re stupid.

    I wonder why Assange went overboard and posted lists of strategic sites. He dislikes America is one thing, but many of the sites are of foremost importance to civilians, which begs the question, is Julian Assange an anarchist? The posting of diplomatic cables unrelated to war or business is also juvenile unless he really is devoted to anarchism. Then again, can he not perform similar feats of embarrassment and strategic unclothing on other world powers? If not, his acts are just going to be manipulated by interests just as, if not more, despicable than the ones he purports to abhor.

    Any speculation on what caused him to turn himself in? I’m not seeing it in any of the articles online.

  • Brian Too

    This will not end well.

  • TheMorganDoctrine

    If the “hacktivists for good” can do no better than DDoS attacks, they’re really not very good hackers. TheMorganDoctrine

  • David

    I’m sure terrorist organizations are sifting through Wikileaks as I type this comment. The ideals behind wikileaks are lofty, but the practical fact is that terrorists (clever ones) can use the info to more effectively weaken or kill people that oppose them. Knowledge is power so i’m pretty sure that wikileaks are empowering the terrorists.

    Assange might not directly have downloaded the secret info, but he created the broadcasting platform so overall he is still guilty of devulging secret information, although not guilty of obtaining the secret information.

    I think wikileaks should only leak information that prove corruption or cover-ups even though they might be in possession of a larger data set. Leaking places of strategic importance to the US doesnt show a coverup. That is just devulging secret information in the same way I might publish the login information to Assange’s bank account online. It doesn’t make the world a better place.

  • neg

    the “rape charges were conveniently timed to try to harm Julians credibility.its no accident it happened right around the war files dump.the women didnt press charges until they discovered each of the women actually has CIA ties, is a feminist who moved to cuba to be a more intense(?) feminist working ith the ordganization “The ladies in white” there in cuba.Finally, this same woman wrote a blog on “How to gain revenge on a cheating boyfriend through legal means.” Really? Were going to take this seriously? A woman linked to the CIA, who is enough of a feminist to move to CUBA to participate in something, who wrote a man hating/legal revenge blog.Yeah, she sounds stable.No axe to grind there! Lol! The other woman threw a part in Julians honor “after” the crime. After. During this party, she was making twitter posts about how awesome Julian was. If i had been raped, i would not throw him a party and twitter about how cool the rapist is.Just saying.
    There is also the issue of language-in the us were saying “rape”.thats not the charge-the charge is having sex without a condom.totally different.if that were a crime here, how many new prisons would we have to build?
    Conclusion-this whole thing stinks bad.Julian is a victim here.

  • s

    Well said David.

    wikileaks might have more credibility if they were not so focused on the USA.

    i find it ironic they cannot report on countries like China since the Chinese guard that information at the point of a gun, rather than as a matter of law.

    Wikileaks is not journalism, because Journalists, for the most part, have a profesional code of ethics/conduct.

    who will protect us from Wikileaks?

  • 23.M.Ipswich,UK

    This whole Wikileaks/Hacktivists/PayPal/Swedish Government/Cyber war/Rape Charges conflict has a definite ‘fight the power’ feeling arising from people who agree with Wikileaks. Although I’m in favour of Wikileaks continuing what it’s doing and even the hacktivists attacking the cowardly companies withdrawing their services I can’t help but feel that one particular cable shouldn’t have been released, the US national security sites around the world. In fact if I was going to hold back any document it would be that one.

    Apart from that I’m staunchly on the side of Wikileaks. The sheer number of crimes (Especially from our current wars) exposed by them is outweighing the odd potentially harmful document that they pubish. To sum up why I align myself with this side of the argument; war crime murders exposed by Wikileaks, hundreds (Conservatively), war crime murders committed by Wikileaks, 0.

  • coca cola

    Post everything! F***ing hell, it would nice to know everything that the governments are up to behind closed doors. And I don’t believe that anyone could believe the rape charges.

  • Cory

    If America wasn’t engaged in immoral and unnecessary activity across the planet, Assange and his Wikileaks would post no threat to national security.

    Terrorists don’t just “hate us for our freedoms”. They hate us for what we do — and it’s about high time we all learn what that actually is.

  • brian

    To anyone and everyone saying that Wikileaks is helping terrorists or risking lives or anything like that, you need to get your head out of your ass. Even if the info Wikileaks is leaking is informing terrorists, the infinitely more important thing here is that the public is being informed about their digustingly corrupt governments and the horrible state of our entire political/economic system. Everyone must stand behind wikileaks and fight government officials to the death over any sort of prosecution/persecution of julian assange or any member of Wikileaks.

  • Satyak Viswanathan

    Thnx so much for this! I havent been this thrilled by a blog for quite some time! Youve got it, whatever that means in blogging. Well, You are certainly somebody that has something to say that people should hear. Keep up the great work. Keep on inspiring the people!


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