Controversial WikiLeaks site still delivering secret US documents after DoS attacks drive it off Amazon
WikiLeaks, the site which exposed 250,000 private US Embassy documents, has moved from Amazon’s web hosting service back to a Swedish site, following denial of service (DoS) attacks.
The WikiLeaks site published a huge trove of papers from US embassies round the world this week, and has been hit by DoS attacks, which date back to before the current spate of document releases. To protect against these and handle demand, the site has moved to servers in Sweden, away from Amazon EC2 servers in the US.
Free speech in the land of the free?
The announcement came in a twet from the site: “WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free–fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe,” WikiLeaks tweeted on 1 December.
According to the latest WHOIS information and data from the dig tool, it appears that WikiLeaks has returned to its original Swedish provider, Bahnhof.
The main WikiLeaks site, originally hosted by Bahnhof, was hit by a denial-of-service attack on Sunday that knocked it offline, hours before publishing more than 250,000 United States embassy cables. The front page popped back up shortly afterwards, on servers traced back to Amazon EC2, according to Internet security firm Netcraft. Wikileaks was distributing traffic between two IP addresses, one in US and the other in Ireland, “on a round-robin” basis, Netcraft said.
The site with the actual cables, at Cablegate.wikileaks.org, was found to be rotating between three IP addreses, two with French company Octopuce and another, an Amazon EC2 server in the US, said Netcraft. Octopuce also hosts the Iraq War Logs, which used to be on Amazon EC2 until mid-November, according to Netcraft.
Did Amazon pull the plug?
On the assumption that Amazon terminated the relationship, the move has been welcomed by US officials hostile to Wikileaks. United States Senator Lieberman’s staff made inquiries to Amazon on Tuesday after various reports surfaced about WikiLeaks being hosted on Amazon EC2, according to CNBC. Connecticut Senator Leiberman is also the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
“I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on WikiLeaks’ previous publication of classified material,” Lieberman, an independent, said in a statement.
However, Amazon would not comment on WikiLeaks or whether it terminated the relationship.
WikiLeaks has previously used a Swedish company called PRQ, which specialises in “bulletproof hosting,” and founder Julian Assange has said Sweden provides legal protection for the site’s disclosures, according to the The Daily Telegraph.
Forbes reported in August that WikiLeaks had moved to Bahnhof, which operates in a Cold-War-era nuclear bunker carved out of a rocky hill in downtown Stockholm.
Even after moving to Amazon EC2 after the first Internet attack, WikiLeaks was hit with a second DoS attack, making access to the site spotty.
Even though WikiLeaks and Assange are currently under investigation, it is unlikely that Amazon would face legal action for hosting the site, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing legal experts.
Not all of the Amazon’s EC2 servers are located in the US, and “it could cause a major incident if the US government were to take action against a company on the basis that it might be hosting material the government finds embarrassing,” according to the Guardian.
WikiLeaks obtained scores of internal US State Department communications, some of which were classified and included candid and embarrassing assessments of world leaders, allegedly from US service member Bradley Manning. The site has been harshly condemned by various US government officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, for damaging relations with foreign governments and potentially giving information to terrorists.
However, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a Pentagon news conference that descriptions of potential harm from secret diplomatic cables posted online by WikiLeaks are “significantly overwrought,” and that the disclosures will have a “fairly modest” impact on foreign policy.