CNN's John Sutter defines the term "cyber attack" in the video above and says a cyber attack is an attack that takes place online, in cyberspace, and not in the real world. He also says the term "cyber war" regarding the attacks in support of Wikileaks and Julian Assange is an exaggeration.
These attacks generally involve bombarding a website's servers with request that cause its actual customers denial of service for a while or replacing the message on a website's opening page with another message the hacker prefers, but these attacks do not affect your personal information. The purpose is not to rob the site's customers or steal their identities. Credit card companies such as Visa are being attacked because some of them have refused to process payments to Wikileaks. Sutter says ordinary consumers don't need to worry about these attacks. So, breathe.
How's Julian Assange doing?
A Canadian newspaper reports that Julian Assange has been moved to isolation for his own safety, and he has asked for a computer because he has difficulty writing by hand. According to ABC news, his attorney Jennifer Robinson said he's been restricted from access to a phone and his lawyers:
"This means he is under significant surveillance but also means he has more restrictive conditions than other prisoners," she said. "Considering the circumstances he was incredibly positive and upbeat."An American indictment on spying charges related to the Espionage Act may be next, his lawyers think, but his attorneys call any such indictment "unconstitutional."
In Australia, Assange's home country, supporters have protested in his support, saying he's done nothing illegal and freedom of speech is under attack.
Julian's mother, Christine Assange, feels the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has betrayed her son by calling his release of various government documents "illegal" and irresponsible.
Julian Assange sits in a British prison on Swedish rape charges that supporters believe are bogus and politically motivated. Mrs. Assange says her son would never commit rape and she worries for his safety.
Jessica Valenti, writing at the Washington Post, argues that the rape charges have been "badly reported," showing confusion in America about what is considered rape in Sweden. Assange is accused of not taking "no" for an answer after a woman who first said "yes" changed her mind and said "no" and of having sex with a woman while she was sleeping. Two women on separate occasions have accused him. The case also has something to do with failure to use a condom, something that in America would not result in charges of any sort.
Valenti says Americans notion of rape is based more on violent coercion and that Swedish laws are more progressive, allowing that a form of date rape, sex that begins consensually but later becomes nonconsensual, is still rape.
"Swedish rape laws don't ban "sex by surprise" (a term used by Assange's lawyer as a crass joke), but they do go much further than U.S. laws do, and we should look to them as a potential model for our own legislation (writes Valenti).Assange is accused of sexually assaulting the women in Stockholm.
In fact, some activists and legal experts in Sweden want to change the law there so that the burden of proof is on the accused; the alleged rapist would have to show that he got consent, instead of the victim having to prove that she didn't give it."
The accusation that he had sex with a woman while she was sleeping has sparked debate about whether it's possible to have sex with a sleeping woman. At NPR, people wrote in to say yes, it's possible. I agree that it is definitely possible. It happened to me once. To this day I don't know if I was just exhausted that night or if the person drugged me, but the first time on the next day he laughed when I asked him not to do it. He did it twice.
So, I'm not saying Assange didn't rape these women. Nevertheless, as I've said before, the charges and arrests came at a very convenient time that benefits Assange's enemies more than it does these women. Why didn't Sweden go after him before he leaked all those documents embarrassing U.S. diplomats and Arab leaders?
The Wikileaks case makes for some strange bedfellows. I see at BlogHer, some feminists are rallying behind Assange and Wikileaks. Liz Henry explains how this can be, that feminists would appear to defend what could turn out to be a rapist. She's concerned that Assange will not be treated fairly. I think she's right on that point. In my opinion, how he's being handled regarding these charges has far more to do with punishing him for releasing the documents than it does with concern for alleged rape victims.
What about the poison pill?
It appears Assange has not released the password for the so-called "poison pill"/"thermonuclear device"/"insurance file" aka "insurance.aes256," that news sources said his associates would release if he were arrested, killed, or Wikileaks was shut down. PC Magazine reported earlier this week:
The National Security Agency (NSA) has known about the file for months: Assange uploaded the file in July to WikiLeaks's Afghan War Diaries page, as if challenging hackers to break in (at least 100,000 have probably tried, Wikileaks tweeted back in August.) Perhaps pre-empting Cablegate, in October WikiLeaks tweeted to followers to mirror the insurance backup.The Christian Science Monitor says the file may have more than 251,000 State Department files, and according to CNN, "experts" say the file's encryption is impossible to break.
Photo Credit: Assange picture from Getty Images.