Wikileaks Turns To Amazon Cloud To Dodge DDoS Onslaught


Controversial government secrets Web site Wikileaks has turned to the cloud to avoid being knocked off line after it became the target of a several denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Wikileaks, which recently launched a new Web site to expose and host leaked U.S. diplomatic communications called cables, has moved the site to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) cloud computing services to dodge the DDoS attacks, the first of which took down the site on Sunday.

Wikileaks publishes the classified documents and claims to have captured more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables between 2002 and February of this year, some of which comprise daily communications between the U.S. State Department and 270 international embassies.

Technologist Alex Nordcliffe noted in a blog post last month that Wikileaks was using U.S.-based Amazon servers to host controversial Iraq war logs. Then, this month, Nordcliffe pointed out that Wikileaks' new cable site is also being hosted on Amazon servers that are likely located on U.S. soil.

"The new site, cablegate.wikileaks.org, is hosted on the same Octopuce and Amazon U.S. IP addresses I reported last month," Nordcliffe wrote. "The wikileaks.org homepage is currently spread across two Amazon Ireland IP addresses."

While the controversial site is partly hosted in the U.S., the classified information that has come under fire is not, making it unlikely that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange or Amazon could find themselves in hot water. Most of the controversial content is hosted by a French company, The Guardian noted.

"If that data happens in the moment to be in the U.S., that's really good because we have a First Amendment," Columbia Law School professor Eben Moglen told The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, Harvard University computer and law professor Jonathan Zittrain told the Journal that now that Wikileaks has disclosed the information it is already public and may not be contraband.

Hosting Wikileaks also puts Amazon in a tough spot, as it could pull the plug on the controversial site which is publicly offering up classified information that could compromise national security. Amazon on Tuesday did not respond to requests for comment.

If Amazon was to shutter Wikileaks, it wouldn't be the first time a Web hosting company took down a site that featured controversial content.

In September, Rackspace shut down a pair of Web sites it was hosting for controversial Christian pastor Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center church while Jones planned to hold a Quran burning demonstration on the anniversary of 9/11. While Jones ultimately didn't hold his Quran burning rally, Rackspace took down the sites noting that Jones' threats and some of the content contained on the Web sites were in violation of the hosting contract and its accessible use policy.

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