WikiLeaks persists despite massive, multifaceted attacks

In a profound (and to many, troubling) reflection on the resiliency of the Web, WikiLeaks emerges stronger than ever

WikiLeaks.org: It takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.

No doubt you've been inundated by the WikiLeaks saga -- 750,000 leaked American government cables; various governments spitting wrath and venom; PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa refusing to take donations (although PayPal has released already-collected funds); the Swiss bank PostFinance freezing a WikiLeaks account; banishments from the Amazon servers (aided and abetted by Sen. Lieberman) and EveryDNS; an extended DDoS attack from unknown sources directed at the WikiLeaks website; and Julian Assange's arrest and ongoing elevation from relative obscurity to freedom-of-the-press martyr.

You also know about the group that calls itself "Anonymous" and its LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) package, an innovative install-it-yourself DDoS package that allows Anonymous to fire at will -- or anybody else for that matter. Anonymous took out PayPal, then MasterCard, then Visa, as well as PostFinance and EveryDNS, with varying degrees of online hobbling. Facebook and Twitter have found themselves caught in the headlights, first allowing, then banning, then allowing IDs that claim affiliation with WikiLeaks or Anonymous. Right now, the tech universe is waiting breathlessly to see who's next.

You've probably also made up your mind as to whether WikiLeaks and -- in a different, vigilante way -- Anonymous are defending the tenents of free speech and/or irreparably undermining the ability of governments to govern and/or attacking the wrong target. Heady stuff.

Love 'em or hate 'em, curse them as the reincarnation of the Axis of Evil or sanctify them as the embodiment of Right to Know, you have to admire one amazing trait: WikiLeaks has come through all of the villification, scorn, and attacks intact. WikiLeaks is still online, still serving up its version of The Truth. Its resilience bears amazing testimony to the adaptable nature of the Internet and shines a bright light on the power of social networking for something other than teenage angst. Not so coincidentally, the WikiLeakers have used tricks that high-profile organizations may find useful some day.

James Cowie on the renesys blog has a timeline of the threats to WikiLeaks and details about its response. In a nutshell, here's what happened:

Two weeks ago WikiLeaks.org was hosted by three ISPs, two in Sweden and one in France. Then the cables hit the fan and WikiLeaks signed on with Amazon Web Services to handle the load. On Dec. 1, Amazon kicked it out, citing violations of its terms of service. WikiLeaks.org shifted ISPs a bit, retaining one of the original Swedish ISPs and adding a different ISP in France.

Then on Dec. 3, WikiLeaks was delisted by its New Hampshire-based DNS provider, EasyDNS. Reference to wikileaks.org gets routed to the EasyDNS servers, but those servers don't respond with a valid IP address. You could still access WikiLeaks.org by going directly to the IP address, but "wikileaks.org" didn't -- and doesn 't -- work.

So the folks at WikiLeaks started registering other country code Top Level Domains: wikileaks.se in Sweden; wikileaks.de in Germany; and wikileaks.fi, .nl, .pl, .to, .cc, .at, .ch, .no, and .lu, with those domain names pointing to a handful of servers in Sweden, Germany, France, and Luxembourg. As of yesterday, WikiLeaks had 14 different DNS providers in eight countries, and the DNS entries point to three different blocks of IP addresses, originating in Sweden, France, and the Netherlands. In addition, volunteers all over the world now host almost 1,400 mirror sites, each at least putatively replicating the original.

Meanwhile, very effective lobbying through Facebook and Twitter have kept the faithful informed about the latest developments -- so much so that Facebook and Twitter are now the primary avenues of communication from the WikiLeaks organization.

WikiLeaks has demonstrated conclusively that it's impossible for a country, or group of countries, to control content on the Internet. At the same time, the Anonymous reaction to WikiLeaks' plight has brought online vigilantism to a new and frightening height.

'Tis a brave new world, indeed.

This article, "WikiLeaks persists despite massive, multifaceted attacks," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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