CyberAnarchism, WikiLeaks and Computer Warfare: The Unprecedented Dangers Associated with Information Technology Today
Daniel Domscheit-Berg has written a book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website that deserves a review in itself. Readers become acquainted with the highly organized and yet free-wheeling world community of "computer hackers," a community motivated by what might best be described as "CyberAnarchism." Most especially, Domscheit-Berg tells the story of WikiLeaks and his long involvement with it as its number-two man. As most everyone knows, WikiLeaks has made itself the platform for the electronic publication of vast numbers of confidential or secret documents sent to it from undisclosed sources. The story of the hacker community, and of WikiLeaks as a part of it, is worth knowing in itself, but additional facts tell us that that is just part of a much larger phenomenon, one that regrettably is even more chilling than the threat of nuclear warfare that has hung over the world since 1945. The exploration of that larger aspect is why this is expanded beyond a discussion of Domscheit-Berg's book into an article of much broader scope.
Key Words: CyberAnarchism, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Chaos Computer Club, computer hackers, cyber-war, cyber security, botnets, computer exploits, computer rootkits, U.S. Cyber Command.
Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website
Crown Publishers, 2011
Daniel Domscheit-Berg's recent book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website (Crown Publishers, 2011) opens a window into the world hacker community and the activities of WikiLeaks itself. To discuss those things in isolation, however, even though they are important, would be to ignore the much broader prospects of computer mayhem that go so far as to raise the distinct possibility of computer warfare, conducted by governments, groups or even individuals, that could shut down entire societies, with all of the implications that would carry. Those implications pose dangers that far exceed the destructive power of any weapons, including the nuclear, that have existed before, both because of the extent of harm they can produce and because the "mutually assured destruction" deterrent isn't for the most part available or efficacious to checkmate the actions of such enemies, who often are anonymous and untraceable. Accordingly, we will review the Domscheit-Berg book and follow it with information about that broader threat.
Domscheit-Berg was the number two man, second only to founder Julian Assange, in WikiLeaks from December 2007 until his withdrawal in September 2010 after the two of them had a falling out. WikiLeaks, as most everyone assuredly knows, has since 2007 made itself the platform for the electronic publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential or secret documents sent to it from sources unknown even to itself. These have included, among many others, 391,812 United States military files from the Iraq War; 250,000 communiques, 15,652 of which were classified as secret, between the U.S. State Department and one or more of its 274 embassies; documents purporting to show the corruption of insiders within Iceland's largest bank; 10,000 pages of secret contracts between the German government and various firms; Sarah Palin's e-mail account (which Domscheit-Berg summarizes as "hardly scandalous"); and half a million text messages that were sent in connection with the events of 9/11/2001. Though many were massive collections, some of the items published were even so small as fraternities' secret ritual handbooks. All of these items were presumed by WikiLeaks to be authentic, subject to occasional later confirmation when an organization would acknowledge that the items were genuine.
One would think from all this that WikiLeaks was an organization of substantial size, with a major staff and rare expertise. …