Thursday, August 25, 2016


The Latest On The Mysterious insurance.aes256 File

"Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war," proclaimed William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. With what appears to be a small-scale cyberwar between supporters and opponents of WikiLeaks, not to mention the increasingly looming threat of the mysterious "insurance.aes256" file, this news story is rapidly becoming the stuff of legend.

First came the wave of distributed denial-of-server (DDOS) assaults on the main WikiLeaks site, apparently emerging from one man, a self-described "hacktivist" and "ex-soldier" hacker, "TH3J35T3R" (The Jester), who made a name for himself in 2009 by attacking Islamist websites and who considers Julian Assange and company as supporters of terrorism. Then came the withdrawals of support, in particular by the hosting services of Amazon and EveryDNS and the online money services PayPal and PostFinance.

But WikiLeaks hasn't been on its own, and an equally massive counterattack is in the offing. There has arisen over Twitter a groundswell of online support in both very peaceful and very destructive ways. On the one hand, there have been the #imwikileaks and #imassange trends, the Twitter equivalent of a sit-in, but the likes of which have not been seen since the postelection troubles in Iran during the summer of 2009 (there is speculation that Twitter is censoring all WikiLeaks-related trends, which the company denies. This is to say nothing of the virus-like duplication of the WikiLeaks site itself, with as many as 507 mirror sites.

On the other hand, though, Operation Payback, a hacktivist wing of the secretive Anonymous meme-movement, began launching its own wave of DDOS assaults against PayPal and PostFinance. Rumors have it that the Jester has also been "taken out," electronically speaking, as his Twitter has fallen silent. And then early this week there emerged the threat from Assange himself that he would reveal the password for insurance.aes256 -- the contents of which his lawyers says would be the informational equivalent of a "thermo-nuclear device."

I've previously blogged about what may or may not be in this file. Although I initially hypothesized that it could actually be a bluff, the more I think about it, the less likely it seems to be that the file contains nothing. Besides myself, the Jester himself has taken a whack at the file, even releasing his own sarcastic version of it, "gap-insurance.aes256." Yet, so far he's been quiet about what he specifically believes is in there.

Meanwhile, "The Sunday Times"' experts believe that it contains the entirety of WikiLeaks' archive, including unpublished papers on Guantanamo Bay, British Petroleum, and the Bank of America. Yet, the likely scale of this in terms of final decrypted and unpacked file size seems unlikely when we consider the 1.4GB size of the current file -- unless, of course, there's been some pretty serious compression done to it, which is possible.

For now, though, I feel that the more likely assessment comes from "The Guardian," which believes the file contains "more than 200,000" unredacted diplomatic cables that can be accessed only by using a 256-digit code. This matches some of my own suspicions.

Finally, the other likely possibility is simply that it might be an unredacted version of the "megaleaks" that have already been released. If so, that would be the height of recklessness and irresponsibility on their part -- but considering some of their recent revelations about U.S. security strategy, which seem more about crying "Havoc!" than about transparency, I wouldn't put that past them at the moment.

UPDATE: I attributed to The Jester a DDoS attack rather than a DoS attack. This was due to the fact that it seemed very much as though he had multiple servers at his disposal. Actually, he was using something called XerXes.

-- Christopher Schwartz
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Maarten from: Leuven
December 07, 2010 19:38
Great contribution. It is interesting to see how people keep finding ways around certain attempts to control the freedom of the internet. I'm not sure about the file, but i'll download it, just in case.
In Response

by: Dan from: D.C.
December 07, 2010 21:53
Most American's are blinded by the media. When an unsettling truth like this comes out (proof), American's begin to wonder. When American's begin to wonder, the government will go after everyone who gets in their way. It's so unfortunate for the people who still look at the government with hope, however, hope is different from truth. Eventually there will be a civil war, I just hope it will be a social civil war.
In Response

by: The_Truth from: England
December 08, 2010 18:33
If you really, really want the truth behind whats going on, then read Ruled By Secrecy by Jim Marrs. This book is FACTUAL, and has all verifiable references.


Be WARNED: this book will leave you scared.
In Response

by: Ray from: NYC
December 09, 2010 00:54
4 fear of being hounded by govt. official 4 my view, I decline 2 post my e-mail address...... perhaps/unfortunately, in the process of posting this e-mail, I may be discovered and followed........ but, being from an undisclosed location, I am used 2 it........... So, go 4 it, Jullian.....!
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 08, 2010 02:59
In Response

by: Leif Mønniche from: Denmark
December 09, 2010 13:51
This video has been removed ??

by: halo efekti from: Finland
December 07, 2010 19:56
There are currently ~750 mirror sites to wikileaks today

by: Steve Withers from: New Zealand
December 07, 2010 20:24
It's absurdly funny and at the same time deeply disturbing watching the people we KNOW (the US government and their employees) have killed thousands and thousands of people - many of them illegally even by their own twisted view of such things - accusing Wikileaks of "endangering lives". They lied about WMD to invade Iraq...and accuse Wikileaks of being 'wreckless'. There are Americans all over the Net calling for the murder of Julian Assange.....who has killed no one and broken no law where he lives by releasing these documents. Looks like the soldiers who fought for "freedom" ijn the Second World War ultimately failed in their now their own government kills with impunity, lies about it, and when exposed, claims to be the injured party.

I'm not buying it. No sane person should. If the US wasn't a rogue state, they wouldn't have so many enemies...or so VERY many dirty secrets to hide.
In Response

by: Christopher Schwartz
December 07, 2010 21:03
Hi Steve, thanks for this comment. Obviously I wouldn't call America a "rogue state", as I think that's an extremely heavy term the application of which few nations deserve (North Korea, Zimbabwe, etc.) Nevertheless, yes, so far there have been no deaths directly or indirectly linked to WikiLeaks' exposures, while there have been many deaths directly and indirectly linked to and caused by American actions. But a few thoughts:

First, to some extent, this has always been comparing apples and oranges: WikiLeaks is a hacktivist/journalistic/historical entity, and the US is an entire country, and worse, it has degraded from a very real debate about morality -- whether the standard applied to a state can be applied to an organization, and whether the US in particular, as a superpower, can be held to a different standard or not -- the answer to which the most honest thinkers on both sides admit is not easy to ascertain, into essentially a he-said-she-said duel.

Second, I would consider myself a supporter of WikiLeaks, insofar as I have felt that their exposures (and not only those pertaining to the US) have had very solid journalistic, historical, and moral value. I say that as someone with dear friends who have served in Iraq or are en route to that country, and with family who have worked, in the past and in the present, in American military intelligence. I know what's at stake.

Yet, I also know that WikiLeaks is far from a perfect entity; we as journalists, academics, and the reading public must be careful to maintain our cognitive independence. For example, their exposure of sites around the world that the US considers to be of geostrategic importance, as well as the NATO defense plan for the Baltic region, I feel have left the bounds of transparency and entered the realm of anarchy. This is to say nothing of what could be in insurance.aes256.

So, in other words, everyone needs to take a deep breath. This situation could spiral very quickly out of control.
In Response

December 08, 2010 03:52
ALL AMERICANS ARE NOT CALLING FOR THE DEATH OF ANYONE... WE KNOW HOW NOT ONLY THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT IS KILLING PEOPLE, BUT ALSO THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT ALSO. IE CHEMTRAILS IN THE SKY,CONCENTRATION CAMPS SET UP, FALSE IMPRISONMENT OF MANY PEOPLE...We also know they are plotting to kill Millions more in an effort to take over the world. We The People.. support Mr. Aussange and empathiize with him. So please don't send out this distorted view of things. Thank You.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
December 08, 2010 12:53
Unfortunately New Zealand seems to produce more than it's fair share of left wing whack jobs like Mr Withers.

Try having a look at how many people Russia has killed in the Caucasus before getting all bent out of shape Mr. Withers, and note that if Mr Assange was doing this to Russia he would already be dead (Politkovskaya, Estimirova, Markelov, Magnitsky etc).

The US government is certainly not perfect, but it is far preferable to the alternatives.

Been to Burma/Myanmar recently Mr. Withers, or to Iran?

Interestingly in Afghanistan the overwhelming majority of the population view the US well. Of course they have the advantage of seeing US actions such as reconstruction and civil aid, which NZ media seems to ignore.

Oh and the soldiers who fought for freedom were pretty successful especially when you compare to the Nazi or Communist alternatives.

by: Rick Bennett from: Utah, USA
December 07, 2010 21:11
I think a new World Government is emerging. Ronald Reagan said we wouldn't ever have a unified planetary government unless there were an "alien invasion." IMHO, he was wrong. The Internet seems to be that vehicle, although it's teetering on anarchy and susceptible to cyber attacks. I've proposed a cyber conflict resolution mechanism called The Morgan Doctrine, but it needs just one sponsoring national government to give it a capital and a bonding/licensing authority. My best guess right now is that Australia is the logical government sponsor, as everywhere else has too many skeletons in their respective closets. Good policy or just a good spy novel?
In Response

by: tictoc
December 09, 2010 08:45
Australia has no skeletons in its closet? Are you serious?

What the US government says and does gets way more attention than it really deserves simply because being anti-American is sexy. People all over the world pay attention to Guantanamo, but very few people seem to know anything (or care) about what Australia was doing on the Pacific Island nation of Nauru. Apparently the indefinite illegal detention of children and their parents by the Australian government (via their proxies in Nauru) isn't as deserving of attention.
Modern-Day Torture

by: Doug from: San Francisco
December 08, 2010 09:16
"For example, their exposure of sites around the world that the US considers to be of geostrategic importance, as well as the NATO defense plan for the Baltic region, I feel have left the bounds of transparency and entered the realm of anarchy."

It's really hard to believe you mean that, Christopher. If you actually do, it's hard to believe you've read the list.

We're talking about a cobbled-together, nearly random list compiled by employees at various embassies who seem to have been commissioned to wander around, naming sites and facilities almost whimsically.

Do you think al Qaeda was surprised to learn that the U.S. prefers that the Port of Yokohama and the Strait of Malacca stay open? Some secret!

Should we be deeply worried that "the terrorists " now know that America considers an Australian manufacturer of Crotalid Polyvalent Antivenin (snakebite serum) crucial to national security?

There has been endless hyperventilating over the revelation of the locations of undersea cable landings and worry that they will all have to be relocated. Apparently, none of you bothered to learn that all of these locations have been publicly known for decades, and that commercial providers offer maps--everything from online interactives to giant sheets for your wall. Google "Telegeography."

As for the lunatic NATO scheme to defend the Baltic states against an imaginary Russian invasion (they don't have to invade, they'll just turn off the gas), it's way better for the insanity to be exposed to the world than for the Russian nutjobs to find out privately and engineer their own crazy response.

It would really be easier to take your concerns seriously if you'd do your journalistic homework. Read the cable with the identifier 09STATE15113 (if you're not subject to the bizarre government employee ban), review the materials in the public domain, and tell us again what you're worried about.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
December 09, 2010 04:45
Doug, obviously you have not much understanding of the way the Russian government does business.

It conducts wargames simulating invasions of the Baltic republics and Poland, it claims the Baltic republics are not "real" countries, and many members of the Russian government consider the Baltic Republics, along with Georgia, Ukraine and most other escapees from Russian imperialism to be "Russian territory".

Russia has a history of invading and subjugating these neighbors that is not only history but current events, see how it behaves in the North and South Caucasus for details.

In Response

by: karanet from: albania
December 12, 2010 09:37
"Russia has a history of invading and subjugating these neighbors that is not only history but current events, see how it behaves in the North and South Caucasus for details." Yes, like Korea, Vietnam, panama, Granada, Iraq, Afganistan, Yemen....

by: Jsetre from: Japan
December 08, 2010 11:20
Why did you link to that "Jester" page? That was one of the dumbest things I've ever read in my life. I feel horrible for having read that.
In Response

by: tgspinner from: us
December 08, 2010 22:37
The one thing that is very frightful is the fact that our personal lives, identifications and privacy is up for grabs and ransom by a hacker, government, or enterprising businessman depending on who wants it first.

by: Anne from: USA
December 09, 2010 01:39
I think I know what is in the INS.AES256 file from Wiki: It's Every file the have and the Complete Web Page(s) all wrapped up into one 1.4Gb file. If you try to input ANY password another file pops up in the DIR called - it appears that the AE ext. is used for: SoftQuad Author/Editor File. HTML editing software. This would make since, even though there are Mirros every where. If one or all get taken down then another one could pop-up some place else. The only way to get rid of it would be for the GOV to completely take the Internet down and that is not likely to happen.
In Response

by: joshua from: tokio
December 09, 2010 12:03
AES 256 stands for a crypting alogarithm.

This file is simply encrypted with an aes 256 bit key,

nothing to do with html editing software
In Response

by: Anne from: USA
December 09, 2010 17:23
I don't think you understand what I'm saying. If you try to open the AES.256 file a NEW file pops up inside the Directory that reads INSURANCE.AE - My assumption is - after reashing what an AE file is - it appears to be HTML Editing/Authoring file. Go look for yourself:

Once the INSURANCE.AES256 file is decrypted it has to turn into a different file. It will not remain as an AES256 file.

From my observation of this AES256 file it turns into INSURANCE.AE

I hope this helps you understand what I mean.

If you find something different peaple reply with your results

by: Snapple from: USA
December 09, 2010 06:17
If you google wikileaks climategate, there are videos where Assange seems to claim that he released the Climategate e-mails. No media sites seem to mention this claim. Is Assange just making this up, or is involved in the theft or dissemination of the Climategate emails? I think this guy is a real sociopath. Nobody voted for him.

by: bruce schimmel from: phila pa
December 09, 2010 15:38
thx, awesome reporting.

by: vexorian from: Bolivia
December 09, 2010 15:43
I think that the release of the critical locations was in fact required for transparency. Let us not forget that over 3 million people have had access to these cables. So, I think we really needed to know that the US diplomats where distributing this hit list to so many people . It was an act of irresponsibility (from the US) that had to be revealed.

With 3 million people, It is hard to believe that Al'quaeda or any other group have not had access to them before the release. It is also perfectly possible most of the high spheres of most governments have had access to the cables that pertained to them. The cable releases are really just a 'revelation' for normal non-government people, in practice.

Comments page of 2

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