Sat, Dec 04, 2010 - Page 1 News List

WikiLeaks switches domain after attacks

SILENCING FAILEDDown for six hours yesterday, the whistleblower Web site had to change over to a Swiss domain when its US domain name provider withdrew service

AP and AFP, STOCKHOLM and LONDON

WikiLeaks was yesterday forced to switch over to a Swiss domain name, wikileaks.ch, after a new round of hacker attacks on its system prompted its US domain name provider to withdraw service.

WikiLeaks’ US domain name system provider, EveryDNS, withdrew service to the wikileaks.org name late on Thursday, saying it took the action because the new hacker attacks threatened the rest of its network.

“Wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure,” EveryDNS said in a statement.

EveryDNS provides access to about 500,000 Web sites.

In a tweet yesterday, the owner of EveryDNS, Dynamic Network Services Inc, wrote that “trust is paramount: Our users and customers are our most important asset.” It did not specify whether it was referring to WikiLeaks, however.

WikiLeaks confirmed the move in a separate tweet, saying “WikiLeaks.org domain killed by US everydns.net after claimed mass attacks.” It was not clear where the alleged attacks were coming from.

WikiLeaks has previously claimed that intelligence agencies from the US and elsewhere have been targeting its site, which has spilled thousands of embarrassing US diplomatic cables as well as classified US military documents.

Earlier this week, WikiLeaks’ Swedish server host, Bahnhof, confirmed that the Web site had been hit by a cyber attack just before it leaked thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

In addition to the latest batch of sensitive documents, WikiLeaks has angered the US and other governments by publishing almost half a million secret documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is not clear how WikiLeaks obtained the diplomatic documents, but the US government’s prime suspect is a US Army private, Bradley Manning, who is in custody on charges of leaking other classified documents to WikiLeaks.

On Wednesday, Amazon.com Inc — which had provided WikiLeaks with use of its servers to distribute embarrassing US Department of State communications and other documents — evicted it. The site remains on the servers of its Swedish provider.

In its decision to terminate the service, EveryDNS cited what it called a violation of the provision stating that a member should “not interfere with another member’s use and enjoyment of the service.”

Andre Rickardsson, an expert on file-sharing and information technology security at Sweden’s Bitsec Consulting, said domain name providers normally don’t drop their clients unless the clients themselves have breached their user contract.

“WikiLeaks is not behind the disturbance here, but individuals trying to disturb WikiLeaks’ operations,” he said.

“I don’t believe for a second that this has been done by EveryDNS themselves. I think they’ve been under pressure,” he added, referring to US authorities.

Mark Stephens, the London-based lawyer for WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange, also speculated that outside pressure had forced EveryDNS to pull the plug on WikiLeaks.

“Pressure appears to have been applied to close the WikiLeaks domain name,” he wrote on the micro-blogging Web site.

“Somebody, probably a state actor, has taken control of literally hundreds of thousands of vulnerable computers across the world and got them all to dial in to the WikiLeaks Web site simultaneously,” Stephens added in comments to reporters.

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