WikiLeakS.org chat - a honey pot for US Military whistleblowers ?

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This IDG interview of Julian Assange should worry potential whistleblowers:

Wikileaks founder reflects on Apache helicopter video

The mainstream media ignored some of the other material Wikileaks published, says Julian Assange

By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service
July 12, 2010 12:22 PM ET

[...]

Assange spoke on Friday at the Center for Investigative Journalism at City University in London,

[...]

The second half of the article contains this extraordinary claim:

Assange said about one in six people affiliated with the U.S. military who enter Wikileaks' secure chat room end up passing information to the Web site. He said those who come to the chat room often possess evidence of something that is making them angry.

"At that point, they come to us, and maybe we can help them," Assange said.

But turning those visitors into sources is delicate, and different approaches have to be used. "You really have to establish a connection at that moment," Assange said.

Is the WikiLeakS.org "secure chat" system effectively a honey pot trap for US Military whistleblowers ?

It is unclear just how many "people affiliated with the U.S. military who enter Wikileaks' secure chat room" there have been.

Why would any real whistleblowers "affiliated with the U.S. military " or not, be stupid enough to contact WIkiLeakS.org , or anybody else, via Internet Relay Chat ?

WIkiLeakS.org Chat web page gives instructions on how to connect to their Internet Relay Chat (IRC) chat system.

There are no warnings and no advice about how to use this Internet Relay Chat system anonymously, even though that web page claims

Whistleblower? Journalist? Citizen journalist? WikiLeaks writer, volunteer, supporter or techie? Get advice and talk with people like you on the WikiLeaks secure chat (also good for safe interviews with anonymous sources).

"also good for safe interviews with anonymous sources" ???

Not if they expect to remain anonymous for long if there is any sort of "leak investigation" !

It is irrelevant whether or not the chat system is "encrypted" using SSL - that does not protect the Communications Traffic Data i.e. IP address, time, date and how much data has been transferred in a session.

The SSL encryption certificate for secure.wikileaks.org:9999 is a self signed one, apparently issued by WIkiLeakS.org itself, but there is no explanation of why this should be trusted on the website.

secure_wikileaks_org_9999_450.jpg

There is no mention of how , for example, to use Tor to connect to this IRC system to try to protect your Communications Traffic Data from snoopers.

The IDG article continues

Assange said Wikileaks is currently re-engineering its submissions engine, an important security tool that can help protect sources who are passing sensitive information to the site. The submissions engine has been described as having military-grade encryption.

Assange contested a Wired magazine story from June 30 titled "With World Watching, Wikileaks Falls Into Disrepair." The story said that the submission engine has been degraded for months and that its SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate had expired. Assange contended he told Wired magazine that it was being redesigned but that article said that he declined comment.

So why have neither Julian Assange nor any of the other WikiLeakS.org activists bothered to update any of their website pages with this news ? Even now the website still gives the impression that there is a working "secure" submission service.

Is that incompetence or deliberate deceit ?

2 Comments

Thank God that someone's got the balls to release this sensitive info. If it were not for your website,all of us would still be trying to figure out the half truth the drones on american tv are trying to brainwash with. The president and all of his men are looting the USA. Do they think for a second that we are that stupid? Keep up the good work! we are headed for a civil war. SOON..........J.Nelms

I don’t know why people are trying to make a hero out of this looser who leaked this sensitive documents. Thanks for letting us know? No thank you to give Taliban a propaganda victory so now they can get a flood of recruits pouring out in Afghanistan and make situation even more worse than what it is. I am a Muslim and I have served in the British army. I am not gonna apologize for caring out my mission. I don’t know what this whistle-blower tried to achieve by leaking the information but one thing for certain, he not just put the lives of our brothers-in-arms at risk but also put the innocent civilians in harms way.

I can assure you that there is a lot of effort we dedicate to keep the civilian casualties as low as possible. Sometimes even risking ourselves.

Some videos are not what it seems anyway. For example, the apache shooting on 20 plus allegedly civilian population. We can see from the onboard video camera that they were armed and they were on the east of call sign hotel26's position. Let’s be honest what the hell 20 odd middle aged men armed with AK are doing in a hostile area? The guy who has been identified as Saaed with Video Camera is not somebody out of BBC, but he is probably insurgent's cameramen cause they have a tendency to record the engagement and then brag about it later on.

There are too many consistencies like this that seemingly looks that we are running a mafia than fight a war in Iraq or Afghanistan but that’s not the case.

I just want to assure everyone that we do all we can to spare the lives of innocent civilians and the infrastructures. But unfortunately civilians to get caught in somebody else's war.

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About this blog

This blog here at WikiLeak.org (no "S") discusses the ethical and technical issues raised by the WikiLeakS.org project, which is trying to be a resource for whistleblower leaks, by providing "untraceable mass document leaking and analysis".

These are bold and controversial aims and claims, with both pros and cons, especially for something which crosses international boundaries and legal jurisdictions.

This blog is not part of the WikiLeakS.org project, and there really are no copies of leaked documents or files being mirrored here.

Email Contact

Please feel free to email us your views about this website or news about the issues it tries to comment on:

email: blog@WikiLeak[dot]org

Before you send an email to this address, remember that this blog is independent of the WikiLeakS.org project.

If you have confidential information that you want to share with us, please make use of our PGP public encryption key or an email account based overseas e.g. Hushmail

LeakDirectory.org

Now that the WikiLeakS.org project is defunct, so far as new whistleblower are concerned, what are the alternatives ?

The LeakDirectory.org wiki page lists links and anonymity analyses of some of the many post-wikileaks projects.

There are also links to better funded "official" whistlblowing crime or national security reporting tip off websites or mainstream media websites. These should, in theory, be even better at protecting the anonymity and security of their informants, than wikileaks, but that is not always so.

New whistleblower website operators or new potential whistleblowers should carefully evaluate the best techniques (or common mistakes) from around the world and make their personal risk assessments accordingly.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

The WikiLeakS.org Submissions web page provides some methods for sending them leaked documents, with varying degrees of anonymity and security. Anybody planning to do this for real, should also read some of the other guides and advice to political activists and dissidents:

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

WikiLeakS Links

The WikiLeakS.org Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

WikiLeakS Twitter feeds

The WikiLeakS.org website does not stay online all of the time, especially when there is a surge of traffic caused by mainstream media coverage of a particularly newsworthy leak.

Recently, they have been using their new Twitter feeds, to selectively publicise leaked documents to the media, and also to report on the status of routing or traffic congestion problems affecting the main website in Stockholm, Sweden.

N.B.the words "security" or "anonymity" and "Twitter" are mutually exclusive:

WikiLeakS.org Twitter feed via SSL encrypted session: https://twitter.com/wikileaks

WikiLeakS.org unencrypted Twitter feed http://twitter.com/wikileaks

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

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Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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