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Cloud Gives Wikileaks Elastic DDoS Armor

By Richard Adhikari
Dec 1, 2010 12:01 PM PT

Wikileaks, the controversial site that has caused a worldwide diplomatic furor by dumping nearly 250,000 documents covering private United States diplomatic communications, has reportedly moved to the Amazon cloud.

Cloud Gives Wikileaks Elastic DDoS Armor

The release of the documents, collectively dubbed "Cablegate," has sparked outrage. Wikileaks' move to the cloud followed a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on the site by a self-proclaimed hacktivist calling himself "th3j35t3r," or "The Jester."

News of the move was posted on the Nanog blog by network analyst Andre Toonk.

Moving to the cloud may help protect a site against DDOS attacks because of the extra bandwidth the cloud can provide.

Amazon.com did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The Wikileaks Move

Toonk posted a message Sunday on Nanog's message board that Wikileaks had moved to the Amazon EU cloud in Dublin, Ireland. Nanog, the North American Network Operators' Group, promotes dialog between people on the creation, maintenance and operation of IP networks.

On Tuesday, Toonk blogged that Wikileaks has apparently moved to Amazon U.S.-West from Amazon EU.

Traffic from the DDOS attack that took down the Wikileaks site apparently exceeded 10 Gbits/sec on Tuesday according to a Tweet from the site.

That's relatively small, as DDOS attacks go; they often exceeded 40 Gbits/sec in 2008, according to Arbor Networks' 2008 worldwide infrastructure report.

The Jester Strikes Again

The hacker who launched the DDOS attack on Wikileaks describes himself as a hacktivist and goes by the handle "The Jester." He claims to have taken down several Jihadist sites in the past.

Jester claims in another blog that the local sheriff's department raided his office and seized all his equipment. He's asking for contributions from readers.

However, this may be a hoax or a social engineering scheme, the Infosecisland blog warned.

The Cloud and DDOS

Can taking one's operation to the cloud really protect against DDOS attacks, where an attacker essentially floods a site's data pipe with requests, blocking all traffic?

That depends. One defense is the almost limitless network and server capacity the cloud offers.

"Public clouds provide on-demand elastic capacity, which makes them a great solution for defending against DDOS attacks since such attacks are inherently unpredictable with respect to frequency, duration or scale," Jake Sorofman, chief marketing officer of rPath, told TechNewsWorld.

"Having massive amounts of resources in the cloud allows you to dynamically change how the information is served," explained Ron Poserina, a senior executive at Symantec Hosted Services.

This is true for both private and public clouds, Poserina told TechNewsWorld.

However, it's best to add more defenses instead of just relying on the cloud's capacity.

"Increasing the pipe definitely helps, but you should go back to defense in depth using a variety of defenses," Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET, told TechNewsWorld. "Just setting a path onto the cloud won't be enough."

The Repercussions of Cloudgate

Perhaps the most striking, if not outrageous, response to "Cloudgate" came from Professor Tom Flanagan of the University of Calgary in Canada. In an interview on Canada's CBC News, he called for Assange's assassination.

"I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something," he said during an interview.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is reportedly considering action against WikiLeaks, and Interpol, the international police organization, has announced it's been after Assange for allegedly committing sex crimes following a warrant filed by the Swedish police.

Assange, who's an Australian citizen, has reportedly labeled the Swedish police's action as a dirty trick.


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