For the past week, Julian Assange has been in the news. He is the founder of WikiLeaks (wikileaks.org). This is an organization notorious for leaking classified information from both governments and other bodies. We may not take it seriously since we’ve not been victims of hackers (or privacy violations). But trust me, this concerns everyone.
Assange was arrested in 11th of April 2019 in Ecuadorian embassy in United Kingdom where he has been holed up for 7 years under Assylum by Ecuadorian government.
However this article is not about all of these. I’m writing to let you know why a World Power like the United States could not curtail the excesses of WikiLeaks.
In Assange’s words: “they don’t have the technology to that…”
So the question is:
- Why can’t the United States with all the powers, resources and technology shut down a single website?
- Why would the sources of information to wikileaks.org not be identified?
- How much damage is he yet able to make using WikiLeaks?
- And lot more questions.
Here I would highlight 3 technological feature of wikileaks.org that makes it unique. But more importantly, makes it so hard to shut out. These features kind of are a kind of deviation from how internet pages and site are built. Although some of the explanation would be technical, but I’ll try to be as clear as possible.
The three features are:
So we’ll start with the first one. Then I would share some hints on how to defeat wikileaks.
1. Scripted Urls
Url stands for Uniform Resource Location. It represents the address of the information on the internet. It is always found on the address bar of your browser. For instance, this page you are reading now have the url:
This address makes it possible to find this page. Moreover, this address makes it possible to index this page as well as all the pages coming from my site.
In case of wikileaks.org, the urls for the pages are scripted. This means that the real url is not what you see on the address bar. For instance, in the wikileaks website, you click on the ‘Intelligence‘ link, then you will see the url:
Notice that the url ends in +-Intelligence-+.html. This is very unconventional.
It makes it difficult for search engines like Google to index.
Think of this as some desperado going who went to rewrite all the street numbers in a street giving made-up numbers to all the houses in the street. As such, you can’t have an valid enumeration. This is exactly same with wikilieaks.org. We simple can’t index or censor the content.
2. Hidden Request/Response Headers
Another feature of Wikileaks website is hidden/manipulated request headers. Normally each page and site on the web has a request response header when accessed. This headers are simply aditional information about the page. This Information stored in the request header is also known as metadata. One such data is referrer and origin.
In case of Wikileaks, the request/response headers are hidden or manipulated. Therefore it would do no good.
This is similar to letters. When you receive a letter, it contains the sender’s details as well as the recipient’s details. Now think of someone slipping an open envelop under your door. This envelop has not sender or receiver details! But somehow, you know it’s for you. Again, this makes it very difficult to track.
You can get these details by pressing F12 on the keyboard while the page is open. For example, the request/response header for www.kindsonthegenius.com is shown below
So while, you have the above for my website, you don’t get all of this for WikiLeaks
3. Anonymous Updates
An update occurs when new information is added to a website. So you can actually track website activities by tracking update activities. However, in wikilieaks.org, this is very difficult. The reason is that updates are made anonymously. Hence, whistleblowers around the globe can always submit data to WikiLeaks completely anonymously. They achieve this using an application called Tor or Tor Browser. Therefore, no traces are left.
This is similar to a criminal committing a crime while wearing latex gloves. In this case, he leave no DNA evidence.
So these are just three of the features that makes wikileaks.org unique. I’m still working on it though.
Final Thoughts and How to Defeat Wikileaks
But does this mean that all hope is lost? Well, no. A number of person don’t realize the weight of the challenge we face. You can only understand it if your private/personal/confidential photos and communications are placed on billboards and public libraries. But since we’re not Hillary Clinton, US Government and other victims of hacking, we don’t get it.
I’m still carrying out some analysis on the operation of Wikileaks.org. I have made a few breakthrough but I would not share it at this time for security reasons.
Secondly, I would like to mention that defeating Wikileaks would be a long-drawn battle. But I’m confident that we’ll win at the long run. What make it challenging is the pervasive nature of information once it hits the cyberspace. So, multiple copies of Wikileaks data could actually be existing. You can think of it as having several lifelines. However, with the progress so far, it’ll be all over soon.
If you have some ideas, to share, please let me know as well.