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Security experts slam Wall Street Journal’s attempt to rival WikiLeaks

By Muriel Kane
Friday, May 6, 2011 21:08 EDT
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The Wall Street Journal’s much ballyhooed attempt to launch a rival to WikiLeaks is already coming under attack.

The Journal claims that its SafeHouse site is located on secure servers, and it promises potential whistleblowers anonymity and the use of file encryption. However, internet security and privacy experts have already concluded that the site is anything but secure.

“Don’t leak to the Wall Street Journal’s new Wikileaks knockoff,” Gawker’s Adrien Chen warned on Thursday, the same day the new site was rolled out. “SafeHouse is the opposite of safe, thanks to basic security flaws and fine print that lets the Journal rat on leakers.”

Chen pointed out that the Journal’s Terms of Use explicitly state, “Except when we have a separately negotiated confidentiality agreement… we reserve the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities or to a requesting third party, without notice, in order to comply with any applicable laws and/or requests under legal process, to operate our systems properly, to protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies, and to safeguard the interests of others.”

The Guardian also obtained comments from a number of internet security researchers, who described SafeHouse as a “total anonymity failure” that needs “basic improvements” and was “the wrong project to beta-test on an open internet.”

“Given the kind of data that the Journal will hope to get from this,” security analyst Rik Ferguson told the paper, “if I [was a whistleblower] there would absolutely be enough for me not to choose that site to upload to.” He explained that the method used to redirect whistleblowers from the unencrypted version of the site “leaves any potential whistleblower open to the chance of getting their traffic – and any documents they’re uploading – intercepted by someone on the same network.”

The Journal insists that its system is already being updated to provide “a secure location that provides sources with access to highly skilled, experienced journalists.” However, it has not backed down from its position that “the Terms of Use reserve certain rights in order to provide flexibility to react to extraordinary circumstances.”

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
 
 
 
 
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