Shortly before the release of over 250,000 secret messages sent by US diplomats and other members of Government, whistle-blowing website Wikileaks has revealed it suffered its own security breach.
For much of Sunday, visitors found themselves unable to access any of the website's controversial content; much of which contains sensitive information about the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and other global and governmental affairs.
Speaking just hours before it was due to release thousands of new State Department documents – known as the US Embassy Cables - the US Wikileaks official Twitter announced the following:
“We are currently under a mass distributed denial of service attack.”
A denial of service attack (DoS attack) is a malicious attempt to make a website or computer resource unavailable to users, and often occurs when a system is flooded with requests or hacked to the point of crashing.
Discussion and speculation in the press and online has already begun to raise question of whether this particular DoS attack was state-sponsored; especially due to the level of unwelcome exposure that some US cables have since caused world leaders.
Speaking to BBC News, Simon Hoggart of the Guardian newspaper said:
“There is going to be some embarrassment certainly for Gordon Brown but even more so for David Cameron who was not very highly regarded by the Obama administration or by the US ambassador here.”
The surge in Wikileak activity isn't the first recorded instance of global cyber-warfare; with the number of incidents seemingly on the rise.
In September alone, the computers of workers at an Iranian nuclear power plant came under attack when a complex Stuxnet worm – capable of seizing control of entire industrial plants – infected thousands of systems.
Experts hinted that the coding of the Stuxnet worm could point at an Israeli origin, although plenty has yet to be done to stop what has since been dubbed 'the world's most sophisticated malware' in its tracks.