Wikileaks supporters claim responsibility for knocking major sites offline Friday

posted at 8:41 pm on October 21, 2016 by John Sexton

Supporters of Wikileaks claim to have taken down major websites Friday with a DDoS attack on an internet routing company. The attack was allegedly a response to Ecuador’s decision to cut off Julian Assange’s internet access. From Politico:

A massive cyberattack Friday on a key internet routing company knocked offline major websites like Spotify, Twitter and The New York Times, as WikiLeaks supporters claimed credit…

Hacktivist groups Anonymous and New World Friday afternoon said they were behind the digital siege, indicating it was retaliation for the Ecuadorian government’s decision to cut off internet access for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over his site’s ongoing leaks of alleged internal documents from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“The specific target is anything big,” a New World Hackers representative using the alias Prophet said in a text message exchange with POLITICO. “We were testing our power at first.”

However, authorities are urging caution noting that both groups have falsely claimed credit for such attacks in the past. The NY Times is reporting that election officials are worried an attack like this could create a problem for voters in some states:

It is too early to determine who was behind Friday’s attacks, but it is this type of attack that has election officials concerned. They are worried that an attack could keep citizens from submitting votes.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia allow internet voting for overseas military and civilians. Alaska allows any Alaskan citizen to do so. Barbara Simons, the co-author of the book “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?” and a member of the board of advisers to the Election Assistance Commission, the federal body that oversees voting technology standards, said she had been losing sleep over just this prospect.

“A DDoS attack could certainly impact these votes and make a big difference in swing states,” Dr. Simons said on Friday. “This is a strong argument for why we should not allow voters to send their voted ballots over the internet.”

The FBI and DHS are said to be investigating the attack which involved malware installed on hundreds of thousands of internet connected devices.


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