Wikileaks crashes under cyber attack

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

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Wikileaks today announced via twitter that its website has crashed under an apparent cyber-attack; this following the recent release of tens of thousands of US State Department cables. Sources in the US say the mass-disclosure of cables is causing diplomatic setbacks, and embarrassment, for the administration of Barack Obama.

Diagram of a Distributed Denial of Service attack, commonly used to bring down websites.
Image: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon.

These previously unreleased cables are said to contain the names of sensitive sources that the authors asked higher bodies to "strictly protect". The authenticity of the latest documents has not been confirmed but, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "the United States strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of classified information".

After more than 2,000 cables were reviewed by the Associated Press, they were found to contain dozens of sources who had sought identity protection. 125,000 sensitive documents have been disclosed in the past week, and their rapid release is said to be causing complications and endangering US foreign policy goals.

"In addition to damaging our diplomatic efforts, it puts individuals' security at risk, threatens our national security and undermines our effort to work with countries to solve shared problems. We remain concerned about these illegal disclosures and about concerns and risks to individuals", Nuland said.

The first series of leaks began last November. With each release, officials from the State Department crisis management team went through the leaked documents, informing sources that had been named, and – where possible – warning those in authoritarian countries their identities may have been exposed.

Wikileaks responded via twitter to the criticism as the cyber attack occurred, "Dear governments, if you don't want your filth exposed, then stop acting like pigs. Simple".

News organisations were previously cooperating with Wikileaks in exchange for copies of documents, including uncensored State Department messages; the new flood of publishing in recent weeks reflects the collapse of those relationships between Wikileaks and the mainstream media.

"We continue to carefully monitor what becomes public and to take steps to mitigate the damage to national security and to assist those who may be harmed by these illegal disclosures to the extent that we can", said Nuland.

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