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WikiLeaks Under Cyber Attack

by John Reed on November 30, 2010

Days after releasing a massive trove of U.S. diplomatic cables, ever-embattled WikiLeaks says it has come under serious cyber attack.

Apparently the site came under a massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack this morning, shutting down the site to users in the U.S. and Europe.

According to the AP:

The site, which distributed a trove of U.S. diplomatic documents on Sunday, said in a Twitter message on Tuesday morning that it was under a “distributed denial of service attack,” a method commonly used by hackers to slow down or bring down sites. WikiLeaks didn’t identify the attackers.

The site, which is devoted to releasing anonymously submitted documents, also came under attack Sunday, but Tuesday’s attack appeared to be more powerful.

Apparently the site – nomally hosted on Swedish company Banhof’s servers – is recovering using server space rented from Amazon​.com.

What’s interesting here is the scale of the onslaught directed at WikiLeaks; 28 times greater than the average DDOS attack, according to the AP.

WikiLeaks said the malicious traffic was coming in at 10 gigabits per second on Tuesday, which would make it a relatively large effort. According to a study by Internet security company Arbor Networks, the average denial of service attack over the past year was 349 megabits per second, 28 times slower than the stream Wikileaks reported.

While fairly basic, could this DDOS hit be the first public example of the offensive operation by U.S. government cyber operators – a community that’s normally very coy about its offensive plans, techniques and capabilities?

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