Who released the trove of unredacted WikiLeaks documents?
As the battle of words continues over how the dump occurred, pundits say it is ironic to see WikiLeaks – a site devoted to exposing other people’s secrets – getting a taste of its own medicine.
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But, he says, if the site’s mounting troubles continue, including the legal charges facing founder Julian Assange with whom the site is tightly identified, “WikiLeaks could become so radioactive as to become irrelevant.”Skip to next paragraph
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But security experts also see a broader caution in the story. “This is just one big wake-up call about the problems inherent in securing any data these days,” says cybersecurity expert Joseph Steinberg, CEO of Green Amor Solutions. "Here you have two organizations, with high levels of incentive to maintain tight security over its information, and yet somehow, relatively simply, those protections were circumvented.”
Human error is the most difficult to prevent, he says, but there are many elements of the security equation that this latest example highlights. The current case hinges on both access and password protection, he says, both of which can be tightened.
“Data is everywhere and it is extremely easy to lose control of it,” says Internet security expert Mike Logan, president and co-founder of Axis Technologies. It is too easy to be careless with digital files he says, but when they are full of information that is potentially dangerous – as with the WikiLeaks cables – it highlights just how important cybersecurity is.
Indeed, people tend to ignore even the most simple security advice such as using hard-to-guess passwords and changing them often. One report suggests that Mr. Assange may have fallen into this trap by recycling an old password.
The ability to communicate freely may be yet another casualty of such incidents, says Mark Tatge, journalism professor at DePauw University’s Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media.
As it becomes harder to keep any information private, everyone from politicians to diplomats and businesses will find it increasingly difficult to communicate. “If nobody wants to commit anything to paper or an e-mail or even a phone conversation for fear of being tapped or exposed, then we are setting back important functions of our culture quite significantly,” he says.