Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wikileaks minions may represent an "uncontrollable" security threat to ordinary businesses that make "enemies"

The ease with which Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal were disrupted yesterday after they pulled the plug on Assange and Wikileaks is leading to calls of alarm even if all the sites were back in operation quickly.

The breeches seem to have been distributed denial-of-service attacks, which may be very hard for even sophisticated sites to stop (by measuring the flow of and rebounding packets that try to "attack your machine").

The Washington Post, however, ran an alarming story by Joby Warrick and Rob Pegoraro, “Wikileaks; relisience shows strength of Internet-age lifelines; Supporters go on offensive to keep site afloat amid enemies’ fullisade, link here. We either live in a “transparent world or shut down the Internet” the article ended, said journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, who said that legitimate MasterCard and Visa customers including major newspapers who published the “illegally” leaked all use these major credit card companies.

In the New York Times, John F. Burns and Ravi Somaiya ran a story “Hackers attack those seen as Wikileaks enemies”, link here. Webroot conveyed this story on Twitter.

We understand the latest Wikileaks “victims” are PayPal and Sarah Palin. John Sutter, a tech writer on CNN, discusses this here, as a kind of enlarged pranksterism. It’s possible that small businesses or websites on hosted services that make “enemies” could become DOS targets because presumably they couldn’t afford the overages, unless their ISP’s could detect the DOS quickly, and then there is nuisance issue. That’s why, for the community as a whole, it’s important that home computer users practice good security at home.

Late Thursday, Netherlands police arrested a 16 year old in connection with the DOS attacks on MasterCard and Visa.

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