Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hackers strike back to support WikiLeaks founder

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's supporters are putting the b back in backlash. As news of his arrest hit websites and social networking sites, a 'cyberwar' was declared. They're calling it "Operation Payback." A group of 'activist' hackers ('hactivists') went to work on PostFinance, the Swiss Bank that froze donations made to the whistleblower site, and brought it down for some time. They next promised to target PayPal – the online payment company that cancelled WikiLeaks account; Anon_Operation posted on micro blogging site Twitter, "target: is YOYOing. Keep firing your lazors!"

Other posts lead supporters to a file mysteriously titled 'insurance.aes256'. Apparently, 'insurance.aes256' contains all the secret files released by WikiLeaks, the cables and then some. But this 1.39 GB file is encrypted. Assange's lawyer has hinted that the 'key' will be made available if anything happened to Assange. Blackmail? Perhaps. But it has worked. Thousands have downloaded the file and are generously 'seeding' – making it available for others to download – while waiting for the key to be disclosed.

The absence of anything related to WikiLeaks from Twitter's 'top trends' list for a long time has drawn suspicion and flak. "Twitter tells me Julie Andrews is trending in Australia. The hills are alive with the sound of lying," said one tweet. "Assange Arrested", however, made it. Tweets are also being used to give 'fire' commands to hackers to synchronize attacks; links to blog posts that explain how to 'easily' and 'legally' help WikiLeaks ("over 10,000 page views in less than 24 hours!" boasts the blogger) are provided. The hydra has come up many times in discussions on WikiLeaks. When the fate of the main site became uncertain, site admins introduced Plan B – mirror sites. Instructions on setting up mirror sites, space required ("couple of GB") and the form were helpfully shared. Website or server owners with space to spare made that available. Consequently, WikiLeaks now has over 700 mirror sites.

Julian Assange is number one on the list of contenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year with an average rating on 90% based on over 24,000 votes; any news report on him is followed by a string of comments; in case the reports are on companies dropping WikiLeaks from their client-list – the comments are reports of cancelled accounts and subscription or threats of boycott. They're doing it for free speech, argue supporters, and for the guy who dared to demand it. Many of them suspect that it is really 'bankgate'—the promised leak on an American bank set to drop in January – that's bothering corporates and governments.

About half a dozen hash tags on Twitter are being used to gather together posts pertaining to WikiLeaks. Hash tags are like headings under which tweets on a certain topic can be gathered and archived making it easier for users to follow discussions and developments. It's written with a '#' followed by the subject. The first one, #cablegate was created by WikiLeaks themselves – it was the 'official' hash tag for the leaks. But as the site came under DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service attack involves making sites unavailable to users) got chucked out of Amazon and finally had its domain name taken down by US DNS provider, hash tags have proliferated at a huge rate. Two are curiously titled 'imassange' and 'imWikiLeaks'. They're explained by a statement by Electronic Frontier Foundation director, John Perry Barlow: "The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops." It appears on a poster for "Operation Avenge Assange". The poster ends with – "The future of the internet hangs in the balance. We are Anonymous. We do not forgive; we do not forget. Expect Us."

Read more: Hackers strike back to support WikiLeaks founder - The Times of India
Source: from Times of India

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