After turning world-politics upside down, Julian Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. However, things got tense earlier today, when police forces started appearing outside the embassy in large numbers, possibly to arrest Assange. Assange sought political refuge from Ecuador, after a British court ordered his extradition to Sweden. He has been in the embassy for two months now.
The Ecuadorian Government has not made any statement yet, but it will announce its decision on Assange’s refuge plea at 10 PM AEST today. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks came out with a report stating that the UK Government is threatening Ecuador to forcefully enter its embassy and arrest Assange. This would be in violation of the Geneva Convention laid down by the UN, but the UK is justifying this act with its own Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987.
Assange has upset the entire world with his investigative journalism and release of a series of video tapes and letters pertaining to political, economic and war scandals in countries like the USA, Afghanistan, a few African nations and even India. Since then, the US government has been trying to get its hands on Assange over the infamous incident involving Bradley Manning’s tip-off to WikiLeaks. Though finally, it looks like they will succeed as once Assange is moved out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, he can be extradited to many other countries.
It is amusing to see that the US is playing a double standard card here, as it itself grants refuge to troubled journalists from other oppressive regimes like China. It will be interesting to see how long the US waits to grab hold of Assange.
Update: Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange, but the British police is still keen on arresting him and handing him over to the Swedish government.
Strategic Forecasting Inc. (STRATFOR) is a company started in 1996 providing “global intelligence” services. This means that they provide what is known as “subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis”. More importantly, according to Wikileaks, they provide “confidential intelligence analysis” to some big shot companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, the US Dept. of Homeland Security and Dow Chemicals of the Union Carbide ill-repute.
Today, Wikileaks went live with staggered posts of over five thousand emails from STRATFOR, much of which has to do with the company’s attempt to show “privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks”, as stated by RWW. Many of these emails also show how STRATFOR has engaged in malpractice in the name of security consulting:-
There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients.
For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the “Yes Men”, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.
We humans love controversy, and Julian Assange knows that. Just last year, he turned the world upside down unraveling one mystery after another through WikiLeaks. He unmasked governments, shady companies, heavy bank accounts and went on to become the most wanted man in the world. The man became the face of investigative journalism, and now, he wants to base a business around it. Julian Assange is planning to launch a TV show, which will give a new medium to the same old content, which he has mastered in delivery.
This statement from WikiLeaks simplifies what the show intends to do.
…draw together controversial voices from across the political spectrum – iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders – each to offer a window on the world tomorrow.
Quick Roll Productions are producing the show with a commitment of over 600 million viewers across cable, terrestrial broadcast and satellite. The US Government has been investigating into WikiLeaks and Assange for over 500 days now, which has made him into a revolutionary figure, worldwide.
Through this series, I will explore the possibilities for our future in conversations with those who are shaping it. Are we heading towards utopia, or dystopia and how we can set our paths? This is an exciting opportunity to discuss the vision of my guests in a new style of show that examines their philosophies and struggles in a deeper and clearer way than has been done before.
The series will start airing in March, and has ten episodes initially, planned for weekly release. This series will urge people to rethink the way the world is working currently, and what needs to be done to save it from a collapse. The way WikiLeaks shook the foundation of some governments and unraveled their diplomatic dirt, this show will be hugely popular. This show will only address our insatiable desire for conspiracies, but then, who does not like conspiracies?
The hi-tech whistle blower, Julian Assange, currently at number 10, gets a second nomination by TIME after being beaten last year by Mark Zuckerberg for the Person of the Year Title. The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant workers get their due mention and they currently hold the 13th position.
Also significant is the presence of Christopher Hitchens, who is currently at number 7 above Julian Assange (No. 10) and Mark Zuckerberg (No. 24). One of the world’s foremost intellectuals, humanists and a hardened atheist, his popularity has soared following the publication of his memoirs Hitch-22. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer shortly after and people, with or without religious beliefs, have poured their good wishes and prayers for his recovery.
The former head of The Human Genome Project, Prof. Francis Collins, one of the world’s most brilliant geneticists, and one of Hitchens’ debate opponent (Collins is a devout Catholic), has taken it upon him to experiment on Hitchens (with his full consent) and find a cure. Hitchens still writes for Vanity Fair, appears in public debates, never shies away from an interview and remains just as fiery and controversial as always, even though his cancer is in its last stages. Coincidentally, today, the 13th of April, is also his birthday.
Cast your vote for your favourite nominee within the next 24 hours. The winner gets into the TIME 100 list.
HBGary, the much talked about mastermind behind government funded rootkit projects was hacked and defaced by Anonymous, the most notorious faction on the Internet. This defacement was a result of an arrogant claim of knowing the identities of Anonymous members, as made by Greg Hoglund.
It has recently come to light that one of the people involved in Anonymous is actually a girl, in her teens and working in a salon part time. This is a matter of utmost shame for the organization that once claimed to have developed a rootkit, which goes undetected by any Antivirus.
Forbes had an exclusive with Kayla, the girl in question. She is extremely secretive about her identities and takes the utmost care to clean her tracks. These facts will outline how seriously she takes her security and privacy.
With just half a dozen close friends online, she has a strict regimen to remain invisible on the web. Each night she wipes every one of her web accounts and deletes every email in her inbox. She has no physical hard drive and boots her computer from a microSD card. I could hide this card anywhere or chew into a million pieces in a few seconds,she says by e-mail. She keeps her operating system on a USB stick and uses a virtual machine (VM) to carry out her online shenanigans.
This same girl Kayla, is also said to have hacked the 4chan forum once with SQL injection. In case you were not following recent news, 4chan is the abode of all Anonymous members.
PayPal is obviously trying to rejuvenate the battered image it now has in the eyes of the world after the entire Wikileaks debacle. PayPal had earlier suspended the accounts of customers who had donated to whistleblower website Wikileaks right after Cablegate. Their feeble reasons as to why the accounts were suspended were overshadowed by the rumors that the United States Government had wrung PayPal’s arm to perform this action. Some of these accounts were also involved in working for Pfc. Bradley Manning the inside man who, many claim, was responsible for the leak of the top secret cables.
One such organization called Courage to Resist also had its account recently suspended by PayPal. Branding PayPal as Evil, the press release by Bradley Manning Support Network claimed that it was and internal policy decision by PayPalto shut down Courage to Resist’s PayPal account, and that the company by their own admissionsaid that there was no legal obligation for them to close down the account.
PayPal, facing severe backlash, retracted their suspension instead saying that Courage to Resist did not comply with their stated policy for non-profits require that the organization have an associated bank account. This is part of the Know Your Customerobligation. In their blog post, PayPal said that they lifted the ban because now they sufficiently know their customer:-
Upon review, and as part of our normal business procedures, we have decided to lift the temporary restriction placed on their account because we have sufficient information to meet our statutory Know Your Customer’ obligations. The Courage to Resist PayPal account is now fully operational.
The Internet blackout in Egypt was an eye opener on government control over the Internet and was a driving force behind the condemnation of a kill switch for the Internet. Though the matter was not over yet. As a closing move, Anonymous has brought down the Egyptian Government website with a DDoS.
A tweet from online protest gathering Anonymous today has indicated that it is hitting the Ministry of Information, among other departments, with a DDoS attack. Indeed, right now several of the country’s government sites are unresponsive, including moiegypt.gov.eg and mcit.gov.eg.
The tweet referenced in the above conversation appears below.
Anonymous began attacking government websites back on the 26th of January but soon after that, Internet went down for the whole nation. The Egyptian government finally had a taste of its own medicine.
Anonymous is the most notorious faction on the Internet. It has always been surrounded by controversies and has upset world governments all over. This attack on Egypt follows the WikiLeaks announcement that it will leak documents on Egypt. Even after the announcement, the Egypt government has been bold in shutting down Internet in the country and has simply made things worse for itself. Governments have to understand how the Internet works even before taking decisions like these.
WikiLeaks has turned the world politics upside down over the last three months and has gathered a lot of attention. However, more often it is doing a mere job of putting together content aggregated from submissions and other sources rather than getting it off insiders as it appeared earlier.
Apparently, illegal music files and video are not the only things that are flowing through P2P networks. Tiversa, a Pennsylvania peer-to-peer investigations firm has supplied the US government with information relating to the use of P2P by WikiLeaks.
Tiversa has claimed that it has monitored key computers used by WikiLeaks and has found a number of searches conducted by them on P2P networks. Wired reports this saying,
Tiversa asserts that on Feb. 7, 2009 it monitored four computers based in Sweden, where WikiLeaks’ primary servers were based, as they conducted 413 searches on peer-to-peer networks seeking Microsoft Excel files and other data-heavy documents, some of which were subsequently published online by WikiLeaks.
Before this, WikiLeaks also has its data off the TOR network with help from Chinese hackers. The Chinese hackers who contributed to WikiLeaks had led Assange to claim that it held a million documents just before the he founded the website. To make the files harder to trace, their names were changed as most of the data on P2P is accessed through searches.
America’s leading bank, Bank of America seems to have suffered some sort of outage today. The website has been down for past few hours and users have been seen complaining on Twitter and elsewhere.
Online banking customers of Bank of America have been unable to login or load the website for almost past 6 hours now. Forbes is reporting that the site has been down since morning.
Bank of America has come under fire recently with reason related to WikiLeaks. However, the Anon group hasn’t attacked the website as they did with PayPal, MasterCard and Visa. However, the Anonymous group has called for a global protest on January 15.
So does Anon have anything to do with the BoFA outage? Well it is highly unlikely because the Anon group usually brags about their operations and there has been hardly any noise coming from their end, so this outage may be a technical issue which happened at BoFA’s end. A BoFA representative also confirmed this to Forbes.
If you are an affected customer you can follow updates on the situation at their twitter account @BoFA_Help. Hopefully, the website should be restored in the next few hours.
The US government has been particularly upset about WikiLeaks and has taken extreme steps to prevent any further damage. A cure does not exist in this case as the damage has already been done irreversibly. In a desperate attempt to save its image hereafter, the US government has created a strategy to prevent any further leaks.
However, the irony is that even those documents related to the prevention strategy could not stay locked up and have leaked to the public.
The memo has been leaked to MSNBC and can be found in this PDF. An extract from the document states:
Each department or agency that handles classified information should assess the agency’s and its employees’ adherence to the policy issuances noted below, the requirements to safeguard classified information with an emphasis on their application in automated systems, and any process the agency has designed to detect purposeful misuse of information technology systems. If your agency does not have any of the required programs/processes listed, you should establish them.
This is a formal approach to prevent leaks and the document is unclassified. WikiLeaks has caused the US government a considerable amount of embarrassment. This would have been the first step towards making things better but the failure has taken the government back to square one.