Amazon bowed to political pressure and stopped hosting WikiLeaks last night.
According to media reports, the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the US Senate's committee on homeland security, contacted Amazon and 24 hours later its hosting of the whistle-blowing website was halted.
According to the Telegraph, Lieberman said: “[Amazon's] decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material. I call on any other company or organisation that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them."
Following the decision by Amazon, the WikiLeaks website and a sub-site devoted to the diplomatic documents were unavailable from the US and Europe, as Amazon servers refused to acknowledge requests for data. WikiLeaks switched to a host in Sweden.
Writing on his blog, Alex Norcliffe said that a global DNS check showed that changes to WikiLeaks' domain are currently propagating around the world. “Bahnhof is the Swedish ISP originally heralded in the media as WikiLeaks' chosen hosting partner some time ago, thanks in part to its futuristic press shots of nuclear bunkers and movie-set lighting," he said.
Responding via its Twitter feed, WikiLeaks said that its servers at Amazon had been ‘ousted' and commented that its money would be ‘spent to employ people in Europe'.
It said: “If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.”
There has been no comment from Amazon on why it chose to stop hosting WikiLeaks, although Mashable said it could have been to protect its servers from inevitable distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, along with pressure from the US government that ‘probably had something to do with it'.
The Guardian said that the removal of WikiLeaks from Amazon's servers will have little effect on the distribution of the files, as it is now being distributed as a Bit Torrent download and can be retrieved by anyone using Bit Torrent clients.
However the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has warned of phishing scams relating to WikiLeaks, with emails detected ‘with subject lines that seem relevant to a high-interest subject and appear to originate from a valid sender'. It warned users to remain vigilant for potential malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalise on interest in WikiLeaks and advised to exercise caution in handling any email with subject line, attachments or hyperlinks related to WikiLeaks, even if it appears to originate from a trusted source.
Following the DDoS attack on Sunday, WikiLeaks was hit by another on Monday lunchtime, which was detailed to be double the size of the previous (10Gbps compared with 2-4Gbps).
Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, said that data from its ATLAS sensor network suggested that the second day's DDoS was both larger and more sophisticated and specifically, that the second attack involved several different components, including a low bandwidth application level DDoS and a 2-3Gbps Syn attack against the primary ‘cablegate' IP addresses.