Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wikileaks - The Breakdown

Most of this sites readers are no doubt familiar with the massive amount of attention, and activity surrounding Wikileaks and its spokesman, Julian Assange.  This article isn't meant to take sides on the controversy surrounding the site, but rather give you a breakdown of some things you should know about Wikileaks.

If any information is incorrect or missing, please feel free to let us know in the comment section. Discussion (excluding planning activities related to the site) is also welcome.

What is Wikileaks?

It is self described as a not-for-profit organization that was launched in 2006. The purpose of the site is to distribute any confidential documents of ethical, political, diplomatic, or historical value.  they do not accept rumors, opinions, or any unsupported documents.

Why the publicity?
Wikileaks recent publicity has to do with the release of 251,287 classified cables near the end of Nov/2010 from an anonymous source.  While this was the major release of information, just prior to the cable release, Afghan and Iraq war logs were also released in July, and Oct 2010.  the "Collateral Murder" Video was also released in April, 2010.

The total number of released documents are 718,030, and US Army Intelligence Analyst Bradley Manning is thought to be the source for all of them.  This is unconfirmed, but he has been arrested regardless.

Wikileaks Partnership With News Organizations
The cables released in Nov were released to four major news organizations before the information was actually posted on the site.  The information was given to The Guardian, Der Spiegel, El Pais, and Le Monde.  The Guardian passed the information onto the New York Times as well.

While all the news organizations listed have all the cables in text format, they do not have all the meta-data associated with the cables, such as country of origin, date, etc.  The Guardian has done an analysis of the cables to try and figure out the missing data.  Their analysis can be found here.

Wikileaks itself has only actually released 960 of the cables, and had been releasing them in conjunction with the news organizations release of the information.  This was done to maximize impact, and to avoid an information overload.

Julian Assange
An australian citizen, Julian Assange has been an editor and spokesperson of Wikileaks since 2006.  Many credit him with founding the site, although the truth of this is debatable.  Julian has written essays that can be found here that have recently been used as an explanation for his political views.  The basic theme o the essays is that Julian is against authority based governments, of which he includes the USA.

The "Insurance File"
Following the Afghan war logs being released, a file named with the name "Insurance" was released on Wikileaks.  The file is 1.4 gigabytes in size, and is encrypted with AES256.  The file is still available on many peer-to-peer networks.  The password for opening the file has not been released as of yet, and it is rumored that the password will be released should Wikileaks become non-operational, or should harm befall Julian Assange.  It is claimed that the file has been downloaded more then 100,000 times.

Result of the Leaked Cables
Following the leaked cables, Amazon (the site that hosted Wikileaks) shut it down citing a violation of terms of service.  Wikileaks had also come under several DDoS attacks, making the site difficult to stay operational. Paypal also closed Wikileaks account, citing a violation of terms of service as well.

There was of course retaliation.  Paypal and Amazon bore the front of DDoS attacks that came from Wikileaks supporters.  Although other organizations such as MasterCard also came under attack.

1 comment:

  1. i really hope something good comes from all of this and more laws are not created taking out rights and freedoms away.