WikiLeaks battled to stay online on Friday after attacks on its servers forced it to change the name of its main website and heavy traffic crippled an online question-and-answer session with the group’s founder.
The American company EveryDNS said that it stopped hosting the website wikileaks.org late Thursday after cyber attacks on the site threatened the rest of its network. WikiLeaks responded by moving to a Swiss domain name, wikileaks.ch and calling on activists for support.
The Guardian newspaper took down an live online question-and-answer session with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after being swamped with visitors. The Guardian, one of the papers that has been posting hundreds of U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, said it had received questions.
“The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops,” Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow said in a tweet reposted by WikiLeaks to its 300,000-odd followers.
The Domain Name System acts like a “phone book” for the Internet. It translates a domain name like wikileaks.org into a number that points to a specific host computer. Even if DNS is not working, visitors can still find the site by going to the numerical address.
The new Swiss domain name does not mean that the WikiLeaks website itself has moved to Switzerland. The domain name points to servers based in Sweden, France, and elsewhere.
EveryDNS said that “Wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure.”
WikiLeaks confirmed the move in a separate tweet, saying, “WikiLeaks.org domain killed by US everydns.net after claimed mass attacks.” It was not clear where the alleged attacks were coming from.
WikiLeaks uses sites in multiple countries to distribute information and WikiLeaks’ Swedish server host, Bahnhof, confirmed that the website had been hit by a cyber attack just before it leaked thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables.
On Wednesday, Amazon.com Inc., who had provided WikiLeaks with use of its servers to distribute embarrassing State Department communications and other documents, evicted it. WikiLeaks remains on the servers of its Swedish provider.