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Attacks/Breaches

Amazon Cloud Withstands WikiLeaks Attack

Online retailer's EC2 architecture holds strong in face of coordinated DDOS strike by Julian Assange's backers.

Amazon.com's famed EC2 infrastructure was more than a match for WikiLeaks allies who tried to take down the site Thursday.

"Okay, here's the real deal—We can not attack Amazon, currently," said Anonymous, a hacker group that supports WikiLeaks, in a Twitter post. "The previous schedule was to do so, but we don't have enough forces," the group said.

Reports said Anonymous and other hackers attempted to crash Amazon's Web site with a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, but gave up after about an hour. Amazon maintains vast reservoirs of excess server capacity so it can handle traffic spikes during key times like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Not only does Amazon depend on its EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) for its own operations, it also rents space on the architecture to third parties. As virtually all of Amazon's business is on line, even small amounts of down time can cost the company millions in lost revenue.

WikiLeaks allies have been planning to attack Amazon ever since it booted Julian Assange's rogue Web site from its servers earlier this month. They're also upset that Amazon is selling an eBook compilation of documents linked by WikiLeaks, despite its decision to remove WikiLeaks itself from its servers.

Other companies that have irked the WikiLeaks crowd haven't fared as well as Amazon. MasterCard, which is refusing to process credit card donations to WikiLeaks, was knocked off line for several hours Wednesday by a DDOS attack.

Meanwhile, Assange is in jail in London fighting an extradition request by Swedish authorities who have charged him with rape and other sex crimes. Assange has denied the charges, which relate to complaints filed by two Swedish women.

U.S. authorities are also said to be mulling espionage and other charges against Assange who, through WikiLeaks, provided several major newspapers—including the Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel—with excerpts from classified diplomatic documents.

The leaked documents revealed serious concerns within the U.S. diplomatic community about the resolve and trustworthiness of several key allies, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the war on terror. They also disclosed Saudi Arabia's wish for a U.S. military strike against Iran, and painted unflattering pictures of Western leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The documents also raise questions about whether British authorities released a prisoner jailed in connection with the Lockerbie bombing in order to preserve oil deals with Libya.

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