Is Wikileaks the Biggest Threat to National Security?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mark Gardner


I'm reading Monday's Guardian here in the UK. It has approximately 14 pages detailing logs received from the Wikileaks website.

It has been jointly published on Wikileaks as well as the New York Times and Der Spiegel in Germany "To reduce the risk of gagging." 

What the files show are intimate details of the war in Afghanistan between Jan 2004 to Dec 2009.  Cyber Security is a key issue worldwide and especially highlighted by President Obama.

Yet one contact made by an alleged disgruntled employee and any protection around the data is gone and the information leaked and published in the public domain in many forms.

Irrespective of the nature of the information ultimately at war and for all the political issues around this war, it is those on the front line who potentially could suffer the most.

In these heightened times of sensitivity protection of information is key. Loose lips sink ships etc.  

However, it is not possible to legislate the whole user base, however many levels of protection are in place. I imagine that the Internet kill switch as proposed by the Obama administration would be used in this type of instance to protect national interest.

I imagine Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is rapidly climbing up the America's most wanted list as the Federal Government look to shut down these embarrassing leaks of information. 

Public domain reporting this may be but the security ramifications could be far reaching.  Wikileaks may not be the biggest threat to National Security but it certainly is one of if not the most high profile threats.

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Anthony M. Freed Perhaps - of course WikiLeaks would have nothing to post if it were not for the insider threat to information security - no leaks, no WikiLeaks.

One thing for sure, these events are changing the nature of journalism and could also ultimately work to undermine the "free and open" Internet we have come to enjoy.
Anton Aylward Perhaps, just perhaps, thigs like democratic elections and free speech are also threats to national security.

As we've seen this week, the UA considers the encryption of the Blackberry to be a threat to national security, and there have been many such similar grumbles from India.

Once upon a time the 'freedom of the press' to point out the folly and abuses of government and other powerful men was an important point of freedom. These days, 'the press' has too many commercial interests to play the role it once did, so perhaps sits like WikiLeaks exist because there is the vacuum and they are filling it.

My take on Anthony Freed's comment is that there could be a government backlash. Oh, what am I saying! We can already see it in most countries, not least of all the Western Democracies like Australia and the USA.

Go check the pending and proposed legislation...
Mark Gardner I think this whole incident proves - security is only as good as it's weakest point.
David Phillips Anton, thank you for pointing out the Geo-political ramifications. I thought your comment was very insightful. Let me add this one addendum. The U.S. loves Wikileaks for the same reason it hates it. We are Gollum. We hates it. Yet we loves it. Sure our secrets are there, so are everyone else’s. What the intelligence agencies, could do, is inundate Wikileaks with all kinds of unreliable data that no one can tell the truth from the fiction. So why have they not done this? Its fun to speculate. 1) Wikileaks has their own vetting sources and knows fully what is fact and what is fiction. (That’s not hard to do.) 2) Wikileaks doesn't get us good intelligence on others if we kill it. What better situation is there than to have a dis-interested third party dropping golden eggs in our laps, now and again. So my take is, that they will just watch and wait and see who comes to play, who's secrets they get to see, and who's not treating their people well enough to keep their loyalties alive.
Hah! Can you imagine a section chief thinking in the back of his head, geee, I better keep my promise to my ops guys or I am going to find this stuff on Wikileaks before morning and my ass is done! It makes us all smarter, more careful, and very well informed. (As if we aren't paranoid enough.)
One more thing Wikileaks does for us. It tells our intelligence communities how serious our heads of state are on ensuring our welfare. (Welfare only comes with truth, so you get my point.) If you have a big compromise-plume on Wikileaks, and you KNOW its going to hurt. And your beloved leader only pretends to do something about it, then you know that sometime soon you are going to have to start choosing sides. (Wink, wink, nod, nod.)
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