The WikiLeaks site crashed Tuesday and faced intermittent availability on Wednesday morning. The DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack is likely the response of the WikiLeaks team releasing 125,000 sensitive documents on their website during the past several days. The biggest concern with releasing these documents is that dozens of confidential U.S. Embassy sources were exposed. Their exposure endangers their lives, compromises diplomatic efforts and threatens national security.
Since their launch in 2007, WikiLeaks has been under fire for releasing classified information, and the U.S. is working on an espionage case against WikiLeak's founder, Julian Assange. WikiLeaks is linked to five mainstream media organizations. Together, they share information and the media organizations advise WikiLeaks staff on what information can be released as-is, and what information should be censored and edited. Recently, those relationships have deteriorated. Without the influence and cooperation of the media groups, WikiLeaks people were free to release a massive leak of information on the WikiLeaks site. A record 125,000 documents were released in the past week, and 50,000 of those were published in just one day.
WikiLeaks Response to Government
WikiLeaks defended their site's overall mission in a Twitter statement Tuesday:
"Dear governments, if you don't want your filth exposed, then stop acting like pigs. Simple."
Source of the WikiLeaks Site Attack
The source of the cyber attack is currently unknown. The thousands of documents recently published on the site are no longer there, even though the site is back online and serving up information. While the WikiLeaks site was under attack, the WikiLeaks team urged Twitter followers to look for the previously published cables on a mirror site, cablegatesearch.net. This site appears to be under attack as well. At the time this article was published, the link contained simply a white screen with black gibberish font.
The sheer quantity of controversial information released makes it difficult to narrow down the source of the attack. Dozens of people and entities have motives. Media organizations could be responsible as they struggle to protect their lead in releasing time sensitive news stories. Or, the U.S. government could have staged the attack to protect the lives and identities of the sources who provided the classified information.