Wikileaks was hit by a second denial of service attack on Tuesday. The assault followed attempts to blitz the site off the web on Sunday night in the run-up to the controversial release of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
The whistleblowing site confirmed the latest attack in an update to its Twitter feed on Tuesday afternoon.
Analysis of the first attack by DDoS mitigation experts Arbor Networks shows that the assault ran at a relatively modest 2-4Gbps for several hours. The attack, modest by the standards of other attacks this year that have hit 10Gbps and above, was nonetheless severe enough for Wikileaks to move its systems back back over to Amazon's cloud infrastructure in order to seek shelter from the storm.
"Overall, at 2-4 Gbps, the Wikileaks DDoS attack was modest in the relative scheme of recent attacks against large web sites," Arbor Networks analyst Craig Labovitz writes. "Though, TCP and application level attacks generally require far lower bps and pps rates to be effective."
The source or sources of the attack remain unclear, but Arbor's early analysis lends credence to the theory that more sophisticated application-level attacks targeting vulnerabilities in Wikileak's server rather than a simple packet flood were behind its brief outage on Sunday.
One hacker, Jester, who has a history of attacking jihadist sites, claimed he used low bandwidth application layer attacks to take out Wikileaks, instead of relying on a more technically unsophisticated attack that relied on fake traffic from a large botnet. This explanation is "consistent" with data from Arbor networks of hundreds of monitor in the networks of its ISP and telco clients, the security firm said.
Whoever launched the attack, or whatever method they used, the assault had no effect on stemming the flow of information from the leaked cables. Even when the Wikileaks site was down, media outlets around the world – including The Guardian and the New York Times – made the whistleblower's leaked documents available to all and sundry. ®