Creepy Spying System Revealed by Wikileaks, Which Then Gets Hit by a Massive Attack

What does it mean, when Wikileaks publishes a trove of documents hacked by Anonymous from the strategic intelligence firm Stratfor — a trove that apparently details a massive electronic spying system run by the U.S. government — and is then hit by a massive and sustained distributed denial of service attack that prevents journalists and people at large from examining the documents in question? I can't be the only person that finds that just a tad ... suggestive.

The best round-up of the story so far is at RT:

Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology — and have installed it across the US under the radar of most Americans, according to emails hacked by Anonymous.

Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence. It’s part of a program called TrapWire and it's the brainchild of the Abraxas, a Northern Virginia company staffed with elite from America’s intelligence community. The employee roster at Arbaxas reads like a who’s who of agents once with the Pentagon, CIA and other government entities according to their public LinkedIn profiles, and the corporation's ties are assumed to go deeper than even documented.

It's difficult to check on RT's report, though, because, as my old employer ZDNet has it:

WikiLeaks is down. The site has been down for the last five days, during which it has been experiencing a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

This isn't the first time this has happened. Back in May, Wikileaks was also taken down by a DDoS attack. That one lasted four days, however, meaning this one has already gone on for longer, according to the site's Twitter account.

Note that the ZDNet story was published two days ago and the attack still continues. Wikileaks mirrors are also offline. So are newly established mirrors to which documents were posted just hours ago.

The presumed Wikileaks hackers call themselves AntiLeaks and claim:

You can call me DietPepsi. I am the leader of AntiLeaks. We are not doing this to call attention to ourselves. We are young adults, citizens of the United States of America and are deeply concerned about the recent developments with Julian Assange and his attempt at aslyum in Ecuador.

Assange is the head of a new breed of terrorist. We are doing this as a protest against his attempt to escape justice into Ecuador. This would be a catalyst for many more like him to rise up in his place. We will not stop and they will not stop us.

Yeah. So ... an ad hoc group of young super-patriot anti-terrorism activists has knocked Wikileaks and all of its mirrors offline for a week? Right.

Maybe it's all an awesomely effective Wikileaks marketing ploy, because, frankly, I want to know more about TrapWire.

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  • RBS||

    . We are young adults, citizens of the United States of America and are deeply concerned about the recent developments with Julian Assange and his attempt at aslyum in Ecuador.

    Sure you are, I mean nobody from the government would ever pose as something else on the internet.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Are you implying that someone may lie about their identity on the interwenz?? The hell you say!

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Cyber-terrorism, except when we do it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Gentle impulsion. Shakes me, makes me lighter.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Assange is the head of a new breed of terrorist.

    The cockroaches are terrified when the light is shined on them.

  • Sal Paradise||

    "You can call me DietPepsi."

    Oh, you crazy kids these days with your MTVs and diet colas.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Wait, so the implication here is that the government has done something successfully for an entire week?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Yeah, this seriously stretches credibility.

    I don't think this is government. At least not the US government.

  • Aresen||

    Well, it is pretty likely that Stuxnet had some US Government involvement.

  • JD the elder||

    The government is generally good at two things: killing people and breaking stuff. I believe this falls under the "breaking stuff" heading, so it's plausible.

  • o3||

    im sure iran has an interestng perspective on this

  • The Hammer||

    At what point does the government become illegitimate again?

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    At what point does the government become illegitimate again?

    If it ever passes an Alien and Sedition Act.

  • ||

    It already has, really, but nobody gives a shit, so it's not winding down.

  • len||

    You imply that at least one government in the world was ever legitimate. Silly person.

  • Srynerson||

    While I wouldn't be surprised to learn the DDoS attack is government-run, you also don't need to look very far on the internet to find tons of private anti-Anonymous/anti-Wikileaks people who could run this sort of operation. (See, e.g., almost any thread relating to Anonymous or Wikileaks at Slashdot, Ars Technica, etc.)

  • Loki||

    Former senior intelligence officials have created a detailed surveillance system more accurate than modern facial recognition technology — and have installed it across the US ... Every few seconds, data picked up at surveillance points in major cities and landmarks across the United States are recorded digitally on the spot, then encrypted and instantaneously delivered to a fortified central database center at an undisclosed location to be aggregated with other intelligence.

    I'm not sure how they could have done this without someone noticing. Is it using existing traffic and surveillance cameras? I though those cameras were all installed and operated by municipalities. Wouldn't they notice all that encrypted data being sent ... somewhere? I'd also like to hope that not everyone involved, from the highest ranking officials to the lowly IT tech guy in a basement somewhere would just sit back and allow people's civil liberties to be violated without doing something (although maybe that's how wikileaks found out about it).

    Maybe it's all an awesomely effective Wikileaks marketing ploy, because, frankly, I want to know more about TrapWire.

    I can only hope so. This is starting to sound like the plot of a bad Hollywood movie. Oh wait, it is.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I'd also like to hope that not everyone involved, from the highest ranking officials to the lowly IT tech guy in a basement somewhere would just sit back and allow people's civil liberties to be violated without doing something (although maybe that's how wikileaks found out about it).

    Let's say all of the cameras are viewing public spaces. What are the civil rights implications there?

  • Loki||

    Let's say all of the cameras are viewing public spaces. What are the civil rights implications there?

    I'm sure that's their "out": "the cameras are all in public, there's no reasonable expectations of privacy, ergo there's no violation of people's privacy." But the fact that they're collecting this data every few seconds seems pretty invasive to me, and probably most other people too.

    Put it this way: if someone commits a crime and it just happens to be captured on a surveillance camera, so be it. Bad guy goes to jail, evil is punished, etc. Network that camera to thousands of others across the country and use them all to feed data to a central database for the government to use in intelligence activities? That's a whole different ballgame IMO. I'm not sure where the line would be legally speaking, but I'm pretty sure this crosses it from an ethical and moral POV.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It seems invasive to me, but I can't think of any reason why it actually is.

    I don't like it and I wouldn't vote for it but outside of the idea that the feds don't have the Constitutional power to do something like this -- which, in theory, wouldn't prevent each state from doing it and aggregating the data -- I can't come up with a principle that articulates why.

  • Spartacus||

    Bayes' Theorem shows immediately that if lots of data is collected on a mass of people, a small percentage of whom are actual criminals, then most "hits" will be time-wasting false positives, not even to mention the deliberate malicious abuses.

    The real problem here, though, is the potential for abuse of the data collected. More data = more abuse potential. When collecting surveillance data takes significant effort, the collectors have to make a judgement weighing the cost of collection against its potential positive value and (in theory anyway) the potential for misuse. When collecting masses of surveillance data is effortless and very low-cost, there doesn't have to be a lot of potential value for it to be judged worthwhile. Those making the judgements, though, are either downplaying or ignoring the potential MISuse of the data, which of course increases in proportion to the amount. Surveillance has to be made to require effort, just so agencies will have to think about whether all this stuff is really worth the effort in obtaining it.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I'm not sure how they could have done this without someone noticing. Is it using existing traffic and surveillance cameras?

    Probably, that's what I'd use.

    I though those cameras were all installed and operated by municipalities. Wouldn't they notice all that encrypted data being sent ... somewhere?

    Most likely not. Output data is hardly ever monitored, except when you pay for it, and I guarantee that the municipalities are not. It takes effort to monitor bandwidth usage, and if there's no reason to, you just wouldn't. Plus if they've been monitoring since the systems were put in place they wouldn't see spikes anyway.

    I'd also like to hope that not everyone involved, from the highest ranking officials to the lowly IT tech guy in a basement somewhere would just sit back and allow people's civil liberties to be violated without doing something (although maybe that's how wikileaks found out about it).

    I think there's an act out there that makes all this hunky dorey. Just can't use anything gathered for criminal prosecutions - which they probably never intended to do. And you'd be surprised what people would do to keep their GS-13 pay and bennies!

  • ant1sthenes||

    Hey, that's the movie that gave us R C, don't knock it.

  • Brett L||

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  • Brett L||

    Doh. That was in reply to The Hammer's question about gummint legitimacy.

  • sarcasmic||

    My posts below were Doh'ed replies to your post.

  • sarcasmic||

    http://www.isil.org/resources/.....ation.html

    We the People of these 50 States have patiently suffered mounting government outrages against us – lies, corruption, legal plunder and terror. We have waited in despair for reforms and redress, but the outrages have only gotten worse. We can now wait no longer. The fundamental rights of "We the People" must be restored now. Government's role must be limited to protection of our lives, liberty and property. When government ceases to be our protector and instead becomes our master, it becomes an abomination. These are the crimes of the modern American State against its citizens:

    They have "erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat our their Substance." The IRS, Justice Department, police, State and local revenue authorities and a multitude of other government agencies have engaged in an escalating orgy of terror, legalized looting and wholesale seizure of private property to feed the appetite of arrogant and rapacious bureaucracies.

    They have multiplied laws and regulations beyond reason or humanity, subverting both the words and intent of our Constitution and Bill of Rights to the point where there is not a single American who could not be arrested, imprisoned and impoverished for violating one of the millions of arbitrary and incomprehensible government laws and edicts now in force.

  • sarcasmic||

    They have instituted oppressive and destructive taxes; stolen over half of our incomes year after year; compelled us to testify against ourselves by filling out endless compulsory reports; made us into unpaid government spies and tax collectors; and destroyed our peace, security, and freedom in order to finance their oppressive bureaucracies, failed social programs, and wars of aggression.

    They have seized control of our economy and have dictated and controlled every aspect of how our businesses must be operated. They have issued edict upon edict, issued regulation on top of regulation, instituted fine after fine, treated us as common criminals, imprisoned us, and seized our property.

    They have destroyed our financial security. They have debauched the currency, substituting worthless paper for gold and silver. They have clandestinely seized our banking system – inflating currency and credit and looting the real wealth of the people.

    They have burdened us with enormous waste and government debt which have brought our nation to the brink of bankruptcy. They have destroyed jobs and stifled private initiative with suffocating regulations and oppressive bureaucracies.

    They have subverted the electoral process through unjust and exclusionary ballot access and campaign finance laws. Vast sums of tax-extorted monies have been used to create a Congressional Monopoly and an Imperial Presidency which have crushed dissent and excluded any serious challenge to their power.

  • sarcasmic||

    They have hobbled and corrupted our system of justice by creating endless numbers of technical crimes against the State, and crimes without victims – making vices into crimes, dissent into treason, and sensuality into perversion. They have seized billions of dollars worth of property without due process of law, imprisoned countless thousands without indictment or trial, and have made equal justice under law impossible by manipulating courts and juries, terrorizing our attorneys and seizing their fees.

    They have kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies. In direct violation of the Constitution, US troops have repeatedly invaded and reduced foreign countries to ruin without declaration of war by Congress. They have used force to compel our children to fight and die in foreign wars far removed from their homes. In the name of the War on Drugs they have declared open war on the people of the United States, invading farm and field, village and home, and spreading terror across the land.

    They have perverted our relations with other nations, using their power to support foreign despotisms. They have bribed other nations with foreign aid, restricted foreign trade, and exported massive quantities of weapons of death and destruction - fomenting discord, repression and war throughout the world.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Better written than mine but a number of the same complaints.

    The history of the present [government] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    For transporting us [and others] beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    Assassinate or jail in an offshore prison for indefinite detention, American citizens with secret evidence.

    The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal

    Takes our land and gives it to private interests

    Forcing us into commerce against our wishes

    Prevents the people from using the illumination of their choosing in their own home.

    Prevents the recording of public actions of public officials

    Declares secret without oversight, information of import to the citizenry

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Restricts or bans the growing of plants for food and medicine.

    Arrested and convicted a person of selling glass in a proscribed manner

    Subjects travelers on private transport to unreasonable, invasive and humiliating searches.

    Taxes the citizens of the States, and then requires the States to pass Laws as condition for the return of the funds

    Illegitimately imposes upon personal arms the police power of the state

    Incurs debt that the citizenry is unable to repay

    Debauches the currency on a daily basis to service that debt

    Orders U.S. Military Forces into offensive actions without the approval of Congress.

    Institutes so many regulations and laws that it is impossible for a mortal to live a day without violating at least one if not a multiple of them.

    Uses the unlawful ownership of the airways to restrict speech.

    Takes the property of those not convicted but merely suspected of a crime.

    Enforces the laws of other countries on US citizens engaged in peaceful commerce.

    May appoint anyone he wants to any appointed position he wants in the Executive branch, at anytime it pleases him to do so

    Forces the townspeople of Tombstone AZ to use hand tools to fix water pipes.

    Does not protect the U.S. Constitution but at every turn tries to circumvent it.

  • wolfpackarmy||

  • Bam!||

    "TrapWire is a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance and logistical planning and introduce the basis for a paradigm shift in the methodologies traditionally applied to securing critical infrastructure, key resources and personnel."

    My brain turned off at "paradigm shift".

  • R C Dean||

    Could someone point me to the enumerated power that authorizes this?

    If the Feds can take pictures in public spaces, there's no principled reason they couldn't point a camera at every front door and keep a log of when you enter and leave yor house, enter and leave your workplace, any other establishment (church, store, whatever)? Is that the idea?

  • kinnath||

    This is the heart of the issue isn't it?

    You have no expectation of privcay once you enter public spaces. But the government's ability to surveil you was limited by manpower and money. Now technology wipes out those limitations.

    So can the government monitor and record you presence 100% of the time you are in public spaces?

  • ||

    then hit by a massive and sustained distributed denial of service attack that prevents journalists and people at large from examining the documents in question?

    Dear journalists, go to pirates bay.

    Also you are idiots for not knowing that.

    Lastly I tried to post the web address to the pirates bay and got this from reason:

    Your post (#3193778) has been marked as spam by a third-party spam filter. If this is a mistake, please email webmaster@reason.com.

    Reason web squirrels, you are also idiots for blocking links to pirates bay

  • jdtuccille||

    It's also on tor, so, yes, it's available -- and the ddos is just raising curiosity.

  • ZengaFooo||

    Sometimes you jsut have to throw your hands up in the air and shout, Whos your Daddy!

    www.in-privacy.tk

  • NL_||

    Does a massive hacking campaign fall under the Streisand Effect? Because it's sure drawing my attention to it. What do they expect, that they can keep this up forever?

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