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WikiLeaks mirror site rails against malware warning

Redirect site sets up shop in dangerous 'hood

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A site that provides a list of Wikileaks mirrors has cried foul over its classification as potentially dangerous to visit.

WikiLeaks.info provides links to sites that serve as mirrors for WikiLeaks.org website, a role that has become more important since the original whistleblower website has come under regular denial of service attacks since its controversial publication of leaked US diplomatic cables a fortnight ago. Much like WikiLeaks.org, WikiLeaks.info is not exactly a model customer for mainstream ISPs, so it has contracted the web services of Webalta, a so-called bullet-proof hosting outfit in Russia.

But Webalta also offers services to a variety of allegedly shady customers, including phishing fraudsters, botnet-controllers and malware-related websites. This has prompted anti-spam organisations such as Spamhaus to warn that visiting WikiLeaks.info may itself leave surfers exposed to malware.

"On Monday, Spamhaus became aware that the main Wikileaks website, wikileaks.org, was redirecting web traffic to a third party mirror site, mirror.wikileaks.info. This new website is hosted in a very dangerous 'neighborhood', Webalta's 92.241.160.0/19 IP address space, a 'blackhat' network which Spamhaus believes caters primarily to, or is under the control of, Russian cybercriminals."

The warning applied only to WikiLeaks.info and not to other Wikileaks sites. Spamhaus advises surfers to use wikileaks.ch instead of WikiLeaks.info to get a latest list of mirrors for the whistle-blower website. Spamhaus said its blacklisting is nothing to do with politics and stems from concern about Webalta and "Webalta's even more blackhat webhosting reseller 'heihachi.net', which controls the DNS for wikileaks.info.

"Our concern is that any Wikileaks archive posted on a site that is hosted in Webalta space might be infected with malware," Spamhaus warns. "Since the main wikileaks.org website now transparently redirects visitors to mirror.wikileaks.info and thus directly into Webalta's controlled IP address space, there is substantial risk that any malware infection would spread widely."

WikiLeaks.info hit back against Spamhaus' classification, arguing it was effectively been accused of guilt by association. It added that it had little choice but to use more unorthodox web hosts, and pointing out that other safe surfing utilities including Google give its site a clean bill of health.

We find it very disturbing that Spamhaus labels a site as dangerous without even checking if there is any malware on it. We monitor the wikileaks.info site and we can guarantee that there is no malware on it. We do not know who else is hosted with Heihachi Ltd and it is none of our business. They provide reliable hosting to us. That's it.

While we are in favour of 'Blacklists', be it for mail servers or websites, they have to be compiled with care. Just listing whole IP blocks as 'bad' may be quick and easy for the blacklist editors, but will harm hosters and web site users.

Wikileaks has been pulled from big hosters like Amazon. That's why we are using a 'bulletproof' hoster that does not just kick a site when it gets a letter from government or a big company. Our hoster is giving home to many political sites like castor-schottern.org and should not be blocked just because they might have hosted some malware sites.

Fortunately, more responsible blacklists, like stopbadware.org (which protects the Firefox browser, for example), don't list us. We do hope that Spamhaus hasn't issued this statement due to political pressure.

WikiLeaks.info is only loosely affiliated with WikiLeaks.org and has nothing to do with Julian Assange. However, some web activists have ignored the destination in writing to Spamhaus and are threatening possible denial of service attack if it doesn't remove its "blacklisting" of WikiLeaks.info.

In an update to its original statement, Spamhaus said it had never blacklisted WikiLeaks.info, only ever issuing a warning. Security firms seem to be somewhat split on whether visiting WikiLeaks.info is safe or not. Spamhaus is not alone in expressing concerns over the safety of visiting WikiLeaks.info, with Trend Micro issuing a similar warning on Sunday. Again, WikiLeaks' decision to get into bed with Heihachi.net (a "safe haven for criminals and fraudsters", according to Trend) was the main cause for concern. ®

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