WikiLeaks’ website has recently suffered a barrage of crippling outages, starting from hours before the diplomatic cables were published. In the latest blow to the whistle-blowing organisation, its American host terminated WikiLeaks from its servers, apparently after failing to cope with a hail of denial of service attacks. For now, WikiLeaks is hosted in Switzerland, but access to the site is still very sporadic. The US government - obviously - denies any involvement. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
The web address is: http://WikiLeaks.org. However, as of noon 3 December it’s no longer valid. The domain host EveryDNS.net terminated the old WikiLeaks domain name because it could no longer cope with the attacks the WikiLeaks address was coming under. According to an EveryDNS statement, “The services were terminated for violation of the provision which states that a ‘member shall not interfere with another member’s use and enjoyment of the service or another entity’s use and enjoyment of similar services’.” The interference with other members in this case refers to the barrage of denial of service (DDOS) attacks, which prevent otherwise legitimate users from accessing the site under attack.
WikiLeaks has, for now, moved to a Swiss domain address: http://WikiLeaks.ch. The New York Times says that the domain address to which WikiLeaks.ch redirects belongs to the Swiss Pirate Party. The Pirate Party of Switzerland has collaborated and provided support to WikiLeaks owner Julian Assange before.
Amazon, who also used to host WikiLeaks on its servers, threw the site out earlier this week. Swedish company Banhof is understood still to be providing hosting services to WikiLeaks on its servers. But it did it after pressure from staffers in US Senator Joseph Lieberman’s offices, who recently introduced a bill that would make it illegal to publish classified intelligence information. Leaking such information is already banned by law, but not publishing it. If this bill is passed, it would make what has been done by virtually every news publication of any substance around the world (reproducing and publishing the leaks) illegal in the US.
Access to the WikiLeaks website has been sporadic since the Diplomatic Dispatches leak, with three massive outages recorded so far. “These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the US,” Assange said to the Guardian.
When questioned about the DDOS attacks on WikiLeaks, the US government denied all involvement. WikiLeaks and Assange have come in for heavy condemnation from governments and commentators since the release of the diplomatic cables, some even calling for his arrest and others his assassination. The BBC reports that his arrest may be imminent, as he is understood to be in a British safe house.
We shouldn’t immediately assume that just because various officials have called for Assange’s arrest and the banning of the website, that they have anything to do with the cyber-attacks on the website. But who knows what gets said and what arms are twisted behind closed doors? DM
Photo: The home page of the Wikileaks.org website is pictured on a computer in Hoboken, New Jersey, November 28, 2010. State Department documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks provided candid views of foreign leaders and sensitive information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation, the New York Times reported on Sunday. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn.