WikiLeaks: How It all Began

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According to Wikipedia, The WikiLeaks website first appeared on the Internet in December 2006. The site claims to have been “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”. The creators of WikiLeaks have not been formally identified, not recently Julian Assange  was discovered to be founder.

 
WikiLeaks states that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations”.
 
In January 2007, the website stated that it had over 1.2 million leaked documents that it was preparing to Publish.
 
Please note, our interest is not in the leaked secret documents, but on how WIKILEAKS was and is able to secure classified and top secret government dossier worldwide through the radical exploitation of cyberspace vulnerabilities.
 
According to a January 2010 interview, the WikiLeaks team then consisted of five people working full-time and about 800 people who worked occasionally, none of whom were compensated. WikiLeaks has no official headquarters. The expenses per year are about €200,000, mainly for servers and bureaucracy, but would reach €600,000 if work currently done by volunteers were paid for. WikiLeaks does not pay for lawyers, as hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal support have been donated by media organisations such as the Associated Press,
Los Angeles Times, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
 
But How does WIKILEAKS developed capacity to mitigate against Denial of Service launched by the Government of United States and others worldwide?
 
Now Let’s see…
 
1.      WikiLeaks describes itself as “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking. WikiLeaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services”. PRQ is said to have “almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs”. The servers are spread around the world with the central server located in Sweden.
 
2.       Julian Assange has said that the servers are located in Sweden (and the other countries) “specifically because those nations offer legal protection to the disclosures made on the site”. He talks about the Swedish constitution, which gives the information providers total legal protection.
 
3.      It is forbidden according to Swedish law for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspaper.These laws, and the hosting by PRQ, make it difficult to take WikiLeaks offline ( Nice move!)
 
4.      Furthermore, “Wikileaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information.” Such arrangements have been called “bulletproof hosting. (Do we have this Cybersecuirty capacity in the Presidency, Immigration, Custom, EFCC, CBN, other Critical Military Information Infrastructures in the country?) 
 
6.      On 17 August 2010, it was announced that the Swedish Pirate Party will be hosting and managing many of WikiLeaks’ new servers. The party donates servers and bandwidth to WikiLeaks without charge. ( Good leverage for WL, Cybercrime is not always about money matter. In this case the motivation is NOT money).
 
5.       Technicians of the party will make sure that the servers are maintained and working. Some servers are hosted in an underground nuclear bunker in Stockholm (Bunker? For virtual arena?).
 
6.      After the site became the target of a denial-of-service attack from a hacker on its old servers, WikiLeaks moved its site to Amazon’s servers. Later, however, the website was “ousted” from the Amazon servers, without a public statement from the company. (Orchestrated  by Underground Fed-Agents ?)
 
7.      WikiLeaks then decided to install itself on the servers of OVH in France. WikiLeaks is based on several software packages, including MediaWiki, Freenet, Tor, and PGP. WikiLeaks strongly encouraged postings via Tor because of the strong privacy needs of its users.
 
8.      On 4 November 2010, Julian Assange told Swiss public television TSR that he is seriously considering seeking political asylum in neutral Switzerland (A country well known for unnecessary protection of people with dubious intention because  of its laws) and setting up a WikiLeaks foundation in the country to move the operation there. According to Assange, Switzerland and Iceland are the only countries where WikiLeaks would feel safe to operate. (- because there are no strong cybercrime law bills. Same is happening in Nigeria. Cybercriminals re-routing ecrime deal through our cyberspace).
 
Now Let’s look at the Legal Challenges – A strategy well exploited by Wikileaks Guys
 
Legal status/Legal background
 
1.      The legal status of WikiLeaks is complex.
2.       Its servers are located throughout Europe and are accessible from any uncensored web connection.
3.      The files it leaks are from countries around the world in which they may have various legal statuses.
4.      WikiLeaks headquarters is in Sweden because of its strong shield laws to protect confidential journalistic sources.
5.      WikiLeaks has stated it does not request classified or confidential materials. However, on previous occasions ,WikiLeaks has requested recommendations and has published lists of “Most Wanted” documents from the public.
6.      They may be protected against the US Espionage Act of 1917 as news organizations are allowed to publish confidential military and national security information if they did not directly solicit it. After the Pentagon Papers were leaked in, the US Supreme Court ruled that “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”.( That can only happen in US, now they are paying dearly for it)
 
Let’s hear interest group comments on legal threats for leaks
•         Spencer Zifcak, President of Liberty Victoria, an Australian civil liberties group, notes that with no charge, and no trial completed, it is inappropriate to state that WikiLeaks is guilty of illegality.
•         On the Australian, UK, and US governments threats to Assange, Ben Saul, a legal expert states he is the target of a global smear campaign to demonise him as a criminal or as a terrorist, without any legal basis.(What do you call someone who exposes the secret of his National Government?  Is it ethical? permitted by law? What is the real motives behind such,  what is the gain? To turn people against Govt or To turn Govt against people? What will be the consequences to his  country prosperity, growth, confidence and trust among the nation in the World? Who can play God’s role? How did he secured those secret documents without a comprise?)
•   &nbsp
;     In specific countries, In the United States the Justice Department has indicated it is considering criminal charges against WikiLeaks. Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated that these charges could stem from the Espionage Act of 1917 or from other unspecified laws.
•          Legal scholars have stated that charges under the Espionage Act could be possible, but such a move has been characterized as “difficult” by former prosecutors because of First Amendment rights in the United States.
•         In Australia, the government and the Australian Federal Police have not stated which Australian law may have been broken by WikiLeaks, but Julia Gillard has stated that the foundation of Wikileaks and the stealing of classified documents from the US administration, is illegal in foreign countries. (True or False?).
 
Most Unfortunate Dimension – Most Dangerous Cyber-Threat to Global Peace Building
Insurance file! For What? On Cyberspace? How? What is it?
 
1.      On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added a 1.4 GB “Insurance File” to the Afghan War Diary page.
2.      The file is AES encrypted and has been speculated to serve as insurance in case the WikiLeaks website or its spokesman Julian Assange are incapacitated, upon which the passphrase could be published, similar to the concept of a dead man’s switch.
3.      Following the first few days’ release of the United States diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcaster CBS predicted that “If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files. There would then be no way to stop the information from spreading like wildfire because so many people already have copies.”[
4.      CBS correspondent Declan McCullagh stated, “What most folks are speculating is that the insurance file contains unreleased information that would be especially embarrassing (adversely damaging) to the U.S. government if it were released.”
5.      Already today, Hackers are on prowl Avenging  the arrest WikiLeaks Leader with ‘Operation Payback’-Mastercard website shut down today! (Do you have MasterCard? Read the information attached culled from Voice of America)
 
 
May we move closer to the “suspected” final direction of Wikileaks Actions – An Underground Political Project Against Obama?
Following the November 2010 leak of United States diplomatic cables The Atlantic, in a staff editorial, opined “Wikileaks is a powerful new way for reporters and human rights advocates to leverage global information technology systems to break the heavy veil of government and corporate secrecy that is slowly suffocating the American press.” Calling legal and physical threats against WikiLeaks volunteers “shameful” the magazine went on to state, “Not since President Richard Nixon directed his minions to go after Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel
Ellsberg and New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan … has a working journalist and his source been subjected to the kind of official intimidation and threats that have been directed at Assange and Manning by high-ranking members of the Obama Administration.” (Are WE sure WIKILEAKS is not underground –orchestrated- project launched  to intimidate President Obama out office? –Picture is getting clearer? Time will tell…)
 
Now Consider this…we may be moving closer to the truth
In an article titled “Only WikiLeaks Can Save US Policy” published on the online foreign affairs magazine The Diplomat, former long-time CIA counter-terrorism expert Michael Scheuer said the source of interest in WikiLeaks revelations was in the inherent dishonesty of recent U.S. administrations. “In recent years, the US public has had to hear its leaders repeatedly tell Americans that black was white,” Scheuer wrote, referencing the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (Why Obama time?)
 
A Globally Formidable Network directed by few individuals?
The New York Times reported that over 200 WikiLeaks mirror sites sprang up after some hosting companies cut their services to the company. On December 5th., a group of activists and hackers known as “Anonymous” called upon supporters to attack sites of companies that oppose WikiLeaks as part of Operation Avenge Assange. Paypal has been targeted following their decision to stop processing donations for Wikileaks.
 
Gregg Housh, who previously worked on other projects with Anonymous, said that he had noticed an organized attempt taking place to attack companies that have not supported WikiLeaks. In reference to the support being shown for Wikileaks, Mr. Housh said; “The reason is amazingly simple, we all believe that information should be free, and the Internet should be free.
 
 
1.      WikiLeaks has attracted criticism from a variety of sources. In 2007 John Young, operator of Cryptome, left his position on the WikiLeaks Board of Directors accusing the group of being a “CIA conduit.” Young subsequently retreated from his assertion but has continued to be critical of the site. In a 2010 interview with CNET.com Young accused the group of a lack of transparency regarding their fundraising and financial management. He went on to state his belief that WikiLeaks could not guarantee whistleblowers the anonymity or confidentiality they claimed and that he “would not trust them with information if it had any value, or if it put me at risk or anyone that I cared about at risk.”
 
2.      Citing the leaking of the sorority rituals of Alpha Sigma Tau, Steven Aftergood has opined that WikiLeaks “does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals.” Aftergood went on to state that WikiLeaks engages in unrestrained disclosure of non-governmental secrets without compelling public policy reasons and that many anti-corruption activists were opposed to the site’s activities.
 
3.      In 2010, Amnesty International joined several other human rights groups criticizing WikiLeaks for not adequately redacting the names of Afghan civilians working as U.S. military informants from files they had released. Julian Assange responded by offering Amnesty International staff the opportunity to assist in the document vetting process. When Amnesty International appeared to express reservations in accepting the offer, Assange dismissed the group as “people who prefer to do nothing but cover their asses.”
 
4.      Other groups that joined Amnesty International in criticizing WikiLeaks subsequently noted that, despite their displeasure over the issue of civilian name redaction, they generally appreciated WikiLeaks work.
 
5.      In an August 2010 open letter, the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders praised WikiLeaks’ past usefulness in exposing “serious violations of human rights and civil liberties” but criticized the group over a perceived absence of editorial control, stating “indiscriminately publishing 92,000 classified reports reflects a real problem of methodology and, therefore, of credibility. Journalistic work involves the selection of information. The argument with which you defend yourself, namely that WikiLeaks is not made up of journalists, is not convincing.”
 
6.       The group subsequently clarified their statement as a criticism of WikiLeaks release procedure and not the organization itself, stating “we reaffirm our support for Wikileaks, its work and its founding principles.”
 
7.      On 30 November 2010, former Canadian government adviser Tom Flanagan, while appearing on the
CBC television program “Power & Politics”, called for Julian Assange to be killed. “I think Assange should be assassinated,” Flanagan stated, before noting to host Evan Solomon, “I’m feeling pretty manly today.” Flanagansubsequently retracted his call for the death of Assange while reiterating his opposition to WikiLeaks.
 
We leave the rest for you to decide. The intention of this analysis to bring to the attention of Stakeholders in Nigeria that vulnerability of compromised information system and seemingly lack of Cyberlaws to protect ourselves in cyberspace will at all time be attractive to international criminals, enemy of state, political gladiators supporters, who are always ready to exploit our collective ignorance  and institutional weakness in the face of growing cyber-threat.
 
In Conclusion…
Wikileaks may and may not be criminally conceived. But how it got its numerous classified secret information  of government worldwide is extremely questionable and  thought provoking without the impossibilities  of unleashing one of the greatest cyber-threat to global trusts and confidence in our connected world. Wikileaks is best described as both a Victim of Cyberattacks and Perpetuator of Cyberattacks. I challenge to be proved wrong!.
 
Segun Olugbile
Cyber Solution, Nigeria

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