is crippled under a massive DDoS. Is the TrapWire leak to blame?

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Privacy

WikileaksAs I write this, is still offline.

According to several reports, it has been suffering a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack since August 3rd. WikiLeaks says the DDoS is flooding the site with ten gigabits of requests every second.

The attack came after WikiLeaks published the latest of its Global Intelligence Files (GIF), discussing the implementation of TrapWire in public spaces in the US.

TrapWire is a surveillance system that makes use of real-time facial profiling to search databases of red-flagged individuals.

There is a lot of hype out there about TrapWire. Articles like this one from a popular English news site does little to calm those prone to panic.

Thing is,TrapWire's website seems pretty upfront about what its technology does:

TrapWire is a predictive software system designed to detect patterns indicative of terrorist attacks or criminal operations. Utilizing a proprietary, rules-based engine, TrapWire detects, analyzes and alerts on suspicious events as they are collected over periods of time and across multiple locations. Through the systematic capture of these pre-attack indicators, terrorist or criminal surveillance and pre-attack planning operations can be identified -- and appropriate law enforcement counter measures employed ahead of the attack. As such, our clients are provided with the ability to prevent the terrorist or criminal event, rather than simply mitigate damage or loss of life.

The company also lists business partners on its website, which include the federal government, homeland security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, state and local homeland security and law enforcement organisations and military force protection services.

(According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "the page on TrapWire's website outlining its executives and their links to the CIA has recently been removed.")

I doubt any dissenter is surprised that the technology exists - it's more that the system is actually in use and they weren't aware. This surveillance approach, which is considered "more accurate than modern facial recognition technology", has been installed across the US without the public's knowledge or approval.

police _eyeballs_170According to's in-depth article, TrapWire has been implemented "in most major American cities at selected high value targets (HVTs) and has appeared abroad as well."

A colleague said this was all a bit reminiscent of the FBI's 1997 Carnivore software, the packet sniffer designed to read online communications among suspected criminals, terrorists and spies.

Others might bring up Orwell's 1984.

I don't think anyone is really surprised that the governments and authorities are quietly using the latest technology to monitor the activities of its people, saying that they are doing this for our general safety.

But with every new surveillance technology that is implemented, personal privacy is further eroded. And the question we all need to ask ourselves is this: What do we value more - privacy or state security?

Sadly, it seems that we cannot get both.

police eyes image courtesy of Shutterstock
TrapWire markets image courtesy of

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9 Responses to is crippled under a massive DDoS. Is the TrapWire leak to blame?

  1. John · 1116 days ago

    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

  2. Don · 1116 days ago

    I'll take freedem and privacy I don't beleve the goverment should have the freedom to spy
    on who ever they wan't to.

    • @Otaku2012 · 1115 days ago

      If the spying is done in public, I don't have any problem. Not going to effect my life or freedom if they are just watching my ass.

  3. Internaut · 1115 days ago

    Spot on John! But, on the bright side, maybe the feds cameras will find Jimmy Hoffa, aliens, and Elvis.

    As Leonard Cohen said "... The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor ... and there's a mighty judgement coming". Something's gonna give. Either the "public" will stop the invasion, or the government will bully on.

    I think the governments will win, and all will be assimilated. It is for our own protection, from ourselves or whatever gobbledegook they bamboozle us with.


  4. @Otaku2012 · 1115 days ago

    Lol, this has made my day. Finally someone takes that stupid NOT CREDIBLE website down. When Wikileaks admits to perpetrating hoaxes, its credibility is shot. How can it's documents be trusted anyway?

  5. Freida Gray · 1115 days ago

    Given Google's love of spying, would they be one of the partners listed in the public supporters under the Entertainment category?

  6. 11511194 · 1115 days ago


  7. Anon · 1115 days ago

    Susan Landau, in her recent book "Surveillance or Security?", argues the balance is not between privacy and security, but in fact between surveillance and security - entirely different.

    The problem is essentially twofold; firstly, surveillance doesn't actually help much vs terrorists, so you're getting much for it, while secondly, it's an architected security flaw (wire taps, CCTV monitoring networks, etc) - ripe for exploitation by the threats other than terrorits - organised crime and other States.

    If you were China, and the US had a network set up to monitor the location of everyone, you'd be interested in obtaining access. You could track every FBI, CIA and NSA employee; the Government, and the military.

    In Greece, for example, for eleven months the suveillance capabilitiy built into the Vodafone network was subverted by an unknown third party and they took a record of all mobile phone calls and texts of about a hundred top Greek officials, including the Prime Minister.

    The other problem of course is mis-use by the State, which historically has been a chronic problem in the USA. The FBI is basically a law unto itself - and we have a system whereby journalists can be tracked and their sources identified - which of course will entirely discourage people from speaking out about corruption or abuse of power.

  8. Ewan · 1112 days ago

    The flaw of the program is this: A number of shoplifters/ con artists use a distraction technique to avoid attention. I can see terrorists and the likes using the system to draw attention away from them.

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About the author

Hi. I am a social, brand and communications expert with 10 years in senior roles in the tech space. I'm currently Sophos' s Global Director of Social Media and Communities. Proudest work achievement? Creating and launching award-winning Naked Security. Outside work, I am a mean cook, an avid reader, a chronic insomniac, a podcast obsessive and blogger .