As reported earlier this week, following its leak of 250,000 classified U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, Wikileaks was targeted by a distributed denial of service attack. The site, which had been hosted primarily on Swedish hosting service Bahnhof, went down for a while on Sunday following the leak.
By Monday it was back up again. According to details newly released from the site, its restoration came as it switched to Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing platform, a service that allows users to rent as many virtual servers as they want.
Wikileaks Gets Dumped
The bad news for Wikileaks is that Amazon apparently dumped it sometime yesterday.
Wikileaks posted on Twitter:
WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free–fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe.
If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.
The quote represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the first amendment, which is perhaps understandable given that the Wikileaks folks by and large aren’t from the U.S. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevent the government from infringing on your free speech, but it’s perfectly legal in the U.S. for businesses to kick you out and deny you access to their property if they don’t like what you’re saying.
According to The Seattle Times, Amazon was contacted by a Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee official who pressured the company to dump the site. Much as it might have agreed to ditch an Al Qaeda site, Amazon agreed to dump Wikileaks, a site whose primary focus over the last several years has been against the U.S. government.
Moved back to Bahnhof, Wikileaks appears to be up and responsive at the present.
Government Beefs up Security
U.S. President Barack Obama has set up a special panel to assess the fallout of the leaked cables and determine steps to secure confidential government data better in the future. The embarrassing deluge of private diplomatic observations of the government has convinced many that some sort of shake up is necessary.
The relative insecurity of classified government data is largely a result of post-9/11 efforts to share more information between various intelligence and defense agencies. That effort resulted in low level military analysts having access to a wealth of confidential information. One such analyst, a disgruntled soldier name Bradley Manning, was responsible for the recent leaks to Wikileaks, a move he made after he was demoted.
One problem, though, is that officials can’t seem to agree on how to enhance security. The National Counterintelligence Executive, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the most senior U.S. intelligence official was going to set up teams of inspectors to assess each agency’s security policies. However, the U.S. military apparently complained, fearful of interference from intelligence agents. As a result the idea has been scrapped.
What is clear is that the U.S. government needs to do something to secure its information from malicious governments like China or organizations like Wikileaks. What is less clear is how that should be accomplished exactly.
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