Now Random Webhosts Are Demanding Wikileaks Mirrors Be Taken Down Over Possibility Of DDoS?

from the weak-sauce dept

With all the attempts by corporations to distance themselves from Wikileaks — often claiming dubious legal issues or terms of use violations that don’t seem to really exist — the EFF is pointing out that one of the (many, many) Wikileaks mirror sites was told by his hosting company he had to remove it or he’d lose his account. The reasoning was quite bizarre. The host claimed that its upstream provider was worried about potential DDoS attacks:

Recently we heard from a user who mirrored the Cablegate documents on his website. His hosting provider SiteGround suspended his account, claiming that he “severely” violated the SiteGround Terms of Use and Acceptable Use Policy. SiteGround explained that it had gotten a complaint from an upstream provider, SoftLayer, and had taken action “in order to prevent any further issues caused by the illegal activity.”

SiteGround told the user that he would need to update his antivirus measures and get rid of the folder containing the Wikileaks cables to re-enable his account. When the user asked why it was necessary to remove the Wikileaks folder, SiteGround sent him to SoftLayer. The user asked SoftLayer about the problem, but the company refused to discuss it with him because he isn’t a SoftLayer customer. Finally, SiteGround told the user that SoftLayer wanted the mirror taken down because it was worried about the potential for distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. When the user pointed out that no attack had actually happened, and that this rationale could let the company use hypothetical future events to take down any site, SiteGround said that it was suspending the account because a future DDOS attack might violate its terms of use.

Taking down a site because it might possibly be subject to a DDoS attack in the future? How does that make sense? We were confused enough when EveryDNS claimed that getting hit by a DDoS violated its terms of service, but its even more confusing to think that the remote possibility that at some date in the future you might get hit by a DDoS is a terms of service violation.

Separately, I was quite surprised to see SoftLayer’s name as being involved here, because I’m aware of other situations in which SoftLayer has been protective of customer rights and not prone to act rashly. So I’m curious if this was a miscommunication or if something else happened.

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Companies: siteground, softlayer

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Comments on “Now Random Webhosts Are Demanding Wikileaks Mirrors Be Taken Down Over Possibility Of DDoS?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Aside from some of the readers of TD, pretty much everyone else has figured out that being associated with wikileaks in any way is risky. Softlayer (and others) are doing what any good network administrator would do, mitigating their risks.

Hosting a wikileaks mirror is risky in all sorts of ways, from the legal implications of distributing documents, the potential for DDoS, and even the potential for huge spikes in traffic beyond the ability of the server and network to handle. Each of these events could lead to problems that would hurt all of their other clients.

A DDoS hurts all the clients. It can entirely wipe out a providers ability to service their customers. As wikileaks has been DDoS before (and some would say it is likely to happen again), and because of attempts to make it a distributed group of mirror sites, there is potential that the DDoS could be reflected to any of the mirrors. No host wants to be part of that.

Further, a hosting company would be unlikely to want to take the risk of search and seizure at their facilities. In the US, I have seen data center raids that involve having the upstream providers disconnect the entire data center from the net to preserve it as is while they search for the boxes in question and confirm that all backups and such have been removed. That would hurt all of the other customers of that hosting company, while the search is being conducted.

It just isn’t worth the risks for the hosting companies to handle material that may or may not be legal, and may lead to other problems such as DDoS attacks.

Is is a pretty simple concept, no?

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“As wikileaks has been DDoS before (and some would say it is likely to happen again), and because of attempts to make it a distributed group of mirror sites, there is potential that the DDoS could be reflected to any of the mirrors.”

Lets do some numbers shall we. 2,000 wikileaks mirrors, a botnet of 50,000 machines, thats 25 machines attacking each mirror. WOW that would really do some major damage … less than a 1% spike in server load.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, let me add this: Since techdirt is such a great supporter of Wikileaks, how come Floor64 doesn’t host a mirror? If you feel it is a great example of freedom and something that should be supported, why is there not a up and running?

Oh, wait, you are mitigating your risks by not doing it. I understand. Now if you could just understand that other companies are doing the same, perhaps you would stop feeding this nonsense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sadly, it doesn’t appear the Wikileaks take that into consideration (the plausibility of DDoS attacks). I work for an ISP/DC, and we have submitted our own mirror request, on a very protected cluster, dedicated entirely to them, yet they don’t respond to any of our requests.

This just shows how hard it is for those with the tools and money to help them, to actually help. I know they have tons of mirrors already, but lots have been taken down this week (a few hundreds if I recall properly) and more will likely follow… so why the difficulty of becoming a mirror?

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We can help solve this problem if rather than mirroring the entire site, people volunteer to host small pieces (eg, in the kilobyte range).

The main servers can then hand off the same but with greater granularity. In fact, you can even hand off the resolution process to specific servers and these can themselves be distributed.

This is technically not a difficult problem. In fact, a torrent of all the pieces where every piece has many seeds is one possible other solution to this problem.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: OH So little mikee feels

OK, let’s follow your logic. DDoS attacks are most commonly targeting sites that appose Wikileaks. Apple has been the most recent by taking down the Wikileaks app. Would it not be logical to force Apple off the Internet due to it’s increased risk of attack?

Human rights organizations have been hit a lot recently with DDoS attacks. They should all be taken offline. And those are completely unrelated to the Wikileaks thing.

Master Card, PayPal, I’m sure the list of sites more likely to get hit can go on and on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here is a better question: if TD is all for supporting wikileaks, and all for supporting free speech, why is:

just a redirect to the front page of TD?

Time to step up there TD! Time to put your money where your mouth is. Mirror the site. Become the biggest mirror you can be. Join in, and stand up for what you believe in. It’s time. Stand up for your rights to free speech. Stand up for your rights!

I dare you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You missed the point. Why does TD not put up and actually mirror wikileaks? It isn’t about the domain, what is just pointing out where it would be. The point is the mirror isn’t there. Why not?

If free speech is so important, and TD completely believes that what wikileaks is doing is so important, and that all of these mirrors are so important, and that every ISP should be bound to accept them no matter what… then why is TD not also mirroring wikileaks?

The answer is simple: They don’t want to risk their other businesses, because they understand the risks involved. They just don’t want hosting companies, payment processors, and banks to be allowed to make the same choice.

Until TD starts a wikileaks mirror on US based servers, they are really just talking out their butts on this one.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, they definitely should host a Wikileaks mirror because some anonymous coward in the intertubes dared them to.

What’s next? Super special double dare? According to your logic, TD should mirror every single thing that has been unfairly taken down on the internet by anyone at all.

I guess you could always donate to buy servers for that. But you would have to give personal information… too bad.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Because nowhere in the Terms of Service does it state “we can terminate your account if you post anything political that we disagree with.” Because “kinda maybe future DDoS attacks” is a bullshit weasel argument to disable said account. Because it represents a breach of contract between two parts (the contract states exactly which Terms are ground for termination). Because it is a service they are paying for. Because it is a poorly hidden attempt to please those that wish to trample on your freedom-of-speech rights.

And because none of the above apply to some random guy with a blog on the net. Only to the actual service providers that have signed a service contract with the customer.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

And in all of these cases, the customers are those mirroring the content from Wikileaks, not Wikileaks themselves. Also the Webhosts are disabling the account of their customers, not the customers refusing to mirror Wikileaks.

Because your question of whether Mike hosts or not a Wikileaks mirror has NOTHING to do with whether Mike’s webhost would disable or not Mike’s account for hosting said mirror.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“If he has problems with they way wikileaks has done things, and he isn’t 100% behind them, why do other companies not get to make the same choice?”

Ugh, THEY CAN! Nobody is saying they can’t. The problem here is that they’re making up reasons for doing so that don’t fly. If they came out and said, “we’re disabling all Wikileaks mirrors because don’t like them”, what could anyone say about it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

They aren’t making up reasons – they are going through the exact same process that TD has done in choosing (as you say they have) to not support wikileaks 100%. Their concerns as hosts include things like DDoS attacks (and we will know what happened with the domain and how that was DDoS’ed).

They are not 100% comfortable with what is going on with wikileaks, they are not 100% sure of the legal ground they stand on, and they are not confident that there will not be some sort of DDoS organized, or other attacks against their businesses.

If we give TD the benefit of the doubt and the right to choose, even if some of us don’t agree with their reasons, should we not extend the same benefit of the doubt to the hosts?

For me, this smacks more of a frenzy, and more of a group of people doing the old “do as I say, not do as I do”. I also notice that EFF doesn’t host a mirror either. Remarkable.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“They aren’t making up reasons – they are going through the exact same process that TD has done in choosing (as you say they have) to not support wikileaks 100%.”

Ugh, yes the ARE, and NO it isn’t the same process. Try to follow along. Being afraid of future DDoS attacks is a made up reason. If it wasn’t, then they would take down ANY site that had the remote possibility of being attacked, which they haven’t done. And Techdirt is NOT taking down other people’s site. They’re not hosting a mirror may be do to several reasons (none of which I think Mike has ever addressed), but they’ve said NOTHING about why they aren’t doing it.

“They are not 100% comfortable with what is going on with wikileaks”

They didn’t state that.

“they are not 100% sure of the legal ground they stand on”

they didn’t state that either. And THAT’S the problem. If the hosting company had simply come out and said something like, “We’re taking down WL mirrors, because we support America, damn it, and that’s what we want to do”, the worst they’d endure would be some criticism from those that like Wikileaks. This “well, there might be some DDOS in the future” crap is bullshit.

“If we give TD the benefit of the doubt and the right to choose, even if some of us don’t agree with their reasons, should we not extend the same benefit of the doubt to the hosts?”

YES! They’re not doing that. They’re making up boogeymen….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

If a site has been DDoS’ed before, it is likely to get it again. Mirrors are juicy DDoS targets, because the people running they are very likely to shut them down quickly once they get even the slightest heat. Heck, most of them are probably hosted on accounts with very little actual bandwidth and probably on virtual accounts that would blow up if 3 people tried to get something at the same time.

Quite simply, if accounts were on a virtual (shared) server, and likely to take other users down if there was a DDoS attack, and knowing that wikileaks has been the target of a DDoS attack, I would say they are exactly right and smart to shut down the sites.

No “boogeymen” as you call them, just the facts.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I see you don’t have a grasp of how the internet works. Let me help you:

Webhosts provide their CUSTOMERS with disk space to host their sites.

Website OWNERS get disk space from webhosts. They put the content THEY want in their sites. Asking one host “why don’t you host X” is stupid. Asking the Barbie Fan Site blog why it doesn’t host Transformers content is STUPID.

Techdirt: Web SITE. Mike: Website OWNER.
Wikileaks mirror: Web SITE.

Techdirt: not hosting Wikileaks mirror.
EFF: not hosting Wikileaks mirror.
Wikileaks mirror: hosting Wikileaks mirror.

Techdirt’s Web HOST provider: doesn’t disable account.
EFF’s Web HOST provider: doesn’t disable account.
Wikileaks mirror HOST provider: DISABLES account. real reason: shit scared / hates Wikileaks. bogus reason: one day a time traveler will go into the past and destroy their servers.

Web HOST for Barbie Site: doesn’t disable account.
Web HOST for Transformers Site: DISABLE account. real reason: hates Transformers.

Barbie site: posts in their blog how unfair is that the Transformers site got disabled.

Anonymous Troll: “Why doesn’t the Barbie Site hosts Transformers content if they’re SOOOOOO concerned?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

You made a funny. How nice.

However, TD can still choose to host a wikileaks site on their servers as part of the package they get from their hosting company. Nothing stops them from adding stuff on their server(s).

You don’t have to be a host to choose to hostcompany to host something on your servers.

So, yes, you made a funny, but once again, deflecting from the main question: Why does TD hold other up to a higher standard than they hold themselves up to?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

If you have ever hosted a website (which I doubt) you will almost certainly be aware of cpanel, which is used by many hosts in the world. Other hosts have similar in house solutions.

There, adding a new domain to your account, or adding a third level domain to an exist account is simple. The hosting company would not even be aware of it as it is created.

When the hosting companies are finding these things, they are looking at them and making a choice. They have no prior knowledge and no way to control them before the go live.

In the end, the hosting companies are making the same choice the TD has made, only doing so under pressure because someone has foisted it upon them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

TD is not analogous to a hosting company. TD is a website, not a provider. The host is decided what their paying customers aren’t allowed to do and making up reasons for it. Do you not see this? Techdirt decides for itself. Mirror has someone else decide for them. Not the same thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

Your argument is weak, technically you fail. One day when you are old enough, perhaps you will actually have your own website (no, blogger blog don’t count), and you will discover that what you are saying is wrong. Until then, I have to assume you are either a stupid child are a baiting troll. Either way, you aren’t worth the time to answer.

Notice, of course, that the might TD leadership avoided this thread like the plague. They don’t want to answer a straight up question.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Im not sure I understand the challenge for TD to mirror Wikileaks. AC you’ve given no real reason to do so.

This walk the walk crap is childish at best. If you believe that people who believe in free speech should walk the walk, then you are starting on the wrong site. I suggest you start by posting the exact same challenge on some other sites that are higher up on the food chain.

The US Government, according to the 1st Amendment, should be walking the walk as the strongest defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

So let lil Mikee do his thing in his way, while you work up the nerve to harass Big Barack, if you don’t know who your Senators or House Reps are. See how far that goes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The reasons is simple:

If wikileaks is that important, if it is such a free speech issue, and all of these hosting companies are declining mirrors, why doesn’t TD step up and support the cause?

TD / Floor64 is in a great position to host it under their own domain, on servers they already have, and really stand up for what is right. After all, if hosting it has no legal implications, and no risks for DDoS or other online issues, why not big the bigger men and step up and host a mirror.

I will leave the leader of TD to come down from his high hill and explain to you why he won’t do it. I doubt he will address any of the real issues, and instead will come up with a scathing personal attack instead.

I think that TD readers need to know why TD won’t step up to the plate. If you really believe in something, believe in their rights to operate, why not step up?

Perhaps TD can sell hoodies and stuff and send the money on to wikileaks. Perhaps do a Wikileaks fun raising drive, using their merchant account and paypal account to do it. Perhaps at that moment, TD might feel what it is like to put a business at risk by making certain choices, rather than ragging on others for making their choices.

The Invisible Hand (profile) says:

Re: Re:

(This is childish, but I’ll play along)

Hey you! Yes you, with the forehead!

Don’t you give a crap about people that are dying because they need blood transfusions? Why aren’t you donating your blood right now!? In fact, why aren’t you permanently wired to a blood extraction machine!?

I guess you talk the walk, but don’t walk the talk, huh? Are you chicken? I’m daring you to donate blood right now!


I knew you couldn’t do it.

Jonathan says:

Any good provider would do this. How can you fault Siteground for removing a customer who is more than likely to receive a large DDoS attack and effect hundreds if not thousands of other customers? Why would they risk that for one single customer? Just to support his right to free speach? I don’t think anyone in their right mind would choose to support wikileaks $5/month hosting account vs. thousands of other customers $5/month hosting accounts. If I were a Siteground cusotmer I would applaud them for not putting my business at risk.

SoftLayer is just doing the same. Can you imagine a DDoS taking down networking equipment and causing thousands of servers to go offline? They would surely lose thousands of dollars if that happened. Every provider out there is pro-active on this stuff. If some customer came to them and told them he presented a large DDoS risk they would choose not to accept their business. All the bleeding heart liberals need to check themselves if they think it’s a good business practice for Siteground and SoftLayer to host an extremely risky wikileaks mirror.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You don’t get it! Smart companies would be allowed to make that sort of choice, but well, by the TD rules of the internet, they should always be forced to risk their businesses because, well, dammit, this is wikileaks mirrors! This is important!

TD won’t put up a mirror on TD servers. They won’t risk their hosting, their processing, and their operations to support what they believe in. They will however mock any company that makes a similar choice.

This is simple, and casts a horrible shadow over everything else TD writes about.

Chargone (profile) says:


disagreeing is fine. have actual (not previously debunked) evidence and present your case well and the original article even gets changed to include it, often enough.

note how most posts declared trollish do not do this, hitting the same fallacies again and again, and being impervious to logic and reason. unlike large parts of the internet, Logic and Reason are considered, umm… significant… here.

The Visible Dentist (user link) says:

Wikileaks, a military psyop

Ever wondered exactly WHO is behind Wikileaks?

Upon closer inspection, Wikileaks appears to be a military psyop working with intelligence operatives and mainstream media disinfo agents. Many think Wikileaks is used in conjunction with other fronts to sway public opinion on behalf of the globalist bankster families – who by the way, intend to control and manage ALL aspects of your life.

Check it out: WHO is behind Wikileaks?

John Barremore

Houston, TX

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