WikiLeaks moves to Amazon servers after DoS attacks

Hacker dubbed 'The Jester' claims responsibility for attacks, says F-Secure exec

After several denial-of-service (DoS) attacks hit it over the weekend, WikiLeaks is now being hosted by Amazon servers in the U.S. and Ireland, IP traces conducted today revealed.

The move by WikiLeaks, the organization that has provided a collection of more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables to several newspapers, came after a series of DoS attacks, said Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at Finnish antivirus firm F-Secure.

"WikiLeaks changed its hosting two times in the last 12 hours," said Hypponen in an interview Monday. "[WikiLeaks] changed from the French host that it's used for some time to Amazon's cloud ... and one of those IP addresses is in the U.S."

However, the published cables are being hosted by a server in France. WikiLeaks has said it will publish the full text of the messages in stages, and so far has posted only 246 of its collection -- or less than one-tenth of 1% of the total.

Traces of WikiLeaks.org by Computerworld showed that WikiLeaks' URL resolved to at least two Amazon-owned addresses, one in Ireland and the other in Seattle.

According to Hypponen, a hacker who goes by the nickname "The Jester" -- in leetspeak, it's "th3j35t3r" -- has claimed responsibility for the attacks against WikiLeaks. In several Twitter messages, the Jester said he launched the attacks in response to "[WikiLeaks] attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, 'other assets' & foreign relations."

The Jester is a likely candidate, said Hypponen. "He took responsibility, and more importantly, he has demonstrated the capability. He also seems to have a motive."

The hacker, who Hypponen said uses a Russian e-mail address, has boasted before of denial-of-service attacks against Islamic jihadist Web sites.

In a July 2010 interview with a U.K.-based site called Ethical Hack3r, the Jester has claimed he is "ex-mil," or ex-military, and said his self-assigned mission is "to cause disruption to the online efforts of jihadists on the Internet."

Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment about its servers hosting WikiLeaks.

Earlier this year, U.S. authorities criticized WikiLeaks for releasing a cache of military documents relating to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned WikiLeaks for releasing the diplomatic cables.

"The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information," Clinton said in a Monday news conference. "It puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems."

She also implicitly threatened WikiLeaks. "I want you to know that we are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information," she said. "I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department, in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again."

In a brief issued Sunday, the White House Office of Management and Budget ordered all federal agencies to review their procedures for protecting sensitive data.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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