Article by James Fox – Verdict Encrypt
The dramatic extraction of Julian Assange from London’s Ecuadorian embassy in April marked a key moment in the saga of the controversial WikiLeaks founder. But now that his refuge is over, what impact – if any – has he had on the world of cybersecurity?
WIKILEAKS, RUSSIA AND HACKTIVIST ATTACKS
While Williams said there’s “no question” that retaliatory hacktivist attacks like these should be part of any threat model, he highlighted that many clients he talks to do not see themselves in this position.
“I think PayPal was in that same situation where if you’d asked them prior, ‘do you do anything controversial’ they would have said ‘no, we’re payment processor’. Then WikiLeaks occurs and Paypal are undoubtedly being pressured by the US government to stop processing. As soon as they do that they are effectively taking a stance but it is no question that it was a surprise to Paypal,” Williams says.
HAS WIKILEAKS IMPACTED CYBERSECURITY?
“You can have the best defences in the world and if you’ve got someone on the inside, you can’t beat them.
SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON INSIDER THREAT
Williams characterises this behavior as Assange treating Manning not as a journalistic source but as an asset, and says he believes these sorts of threats are “absolutely a neglected thing.”
“No organisation we have worked for has ever said they were totally ready for it,” Williams said. “We’re also seeing cases where a foreign national who couldn’t get a job at a company will direct somebody else by saying, ‘here’s some money and USB drives, go in here and download some files, plug this in and run the programme. We’ll take it from there and nobody will ever find out you were involved’.”
JOURNALISM VS CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
Assange out of the equation is unlikely to change either of these realities and with the 2020 US elections on the horizon, many are expecting WikiLeaks to continue to be noteworthy, whether or not they embolden or even engage with cyber threats.