It’s been a while since we heard anything big from WikiLeaks, but things seem to be heating up again. The site has been under a sustained DDoS attack for the last week or so, apparently by a group of self-described ‘young adult citizens of the USA,’ after it released a trove of emails regarding an unprecedented surveillance system known as TrapWire.
The emails, which are part of ‘The Global Intelligence Files’ from Stratfor that WikiLeaks has been publishing since February, involve a sophisticated surveillance system called TrapWire, designed by a private firm known as Abraxas, which sounds like it would fit right into Deus Ex. The name alone is practically gold for conspiracy theorists, but that’s beside the point.
Getting back to the technological side of things, besides discussing different ways of tormenting Julian Assange and containing a level of unprofessionalism and sheer incompetence previously unheard of outside of Neowin, the emails discuss a project known as TrapWire. Just as WikiLeaks was on the verge of revealing the system, the site went dark, receiving as over 40 gigs of traffic every second, and it wasn’t long before a group known as AntiLeaks took credit for DDoSing the site:
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.
Unsurprisingly, that hilariously awful message gave plenty of people a laugh, while more than a few redditors were convinced that the attack was an attempt by the US Government to keep any more of their secrets from getting out. Obviously, that didn’t work, and anyone with a brain could have predicted that DDoSing WikiLeaks would do nothing but generate more attention.
Regardless of who’s behind the attack, the contents of the emails are interesting, to say the least. If you can get past the terrible grammar and weird code words, the emails are a little bit disconcerting to anyone who values their privacy. We try to keep away from the tin-foil hats here at Neowin, so we’re just gonna give you an idea of what the emails themselves say.
As best as we can tell, TrapWire is an ‘intuitive video surveillance’ system that takes advantage of highly sophisticated facial recognition software, surveillance cameras, and AI to spot terrorists and other ‘suspicious’ happenings. The system is deployed across most major US cities (some of the emails even mention international locations, like the UK), and gets funneled back to a central location which interprets what’s going on and sends that information back to law enforcement.
There are plans for implementation of the system beyond the ‘national security’ level, too; one email, which provides a nice summary of the whole system, ends with a note stating that TrapWire could be a ‘very effective [tool] in identifying general street crime as well.” Another email mentions potential uses against political activists.
So, what do you think? So long as you’re not a terrorist or some other form of baddie, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, right? Maybe, but then again, ‘national security’ operations don’t exactly have the best record when it comes to abiding by the law and not invading the lives of private citizens. We’d love to hear your thoughts on TrapWire, and on the DDoS attack against WikiLeaks.