Wikileaks created waves for revealing sensitive information about governments the world over and most notably cables from US diplomats and the collateral damage video which detailed the killing of American journalists in Iraq. A few spinoffs have been created such as Open Leaks but now news organizations are taking a stab at crowd sourcing scoops.
The latest attempt at a Wikileak clone comes from the Wall Street Journal. Dubbed SafeHouse, the site will allow users to anonymously upload sensitive data which will be dispersed and presented online.
In a perfect world any information uploaded to SafeHouse would be completely anonymous, you wouldn’t have to fear retribution for your loose lips and I’d be driving a Porsche along the beautiful Southern California coastline while sipping a margarita. Sadly this isn’t a perfect world, I don’t own a Porsche nor can I drive drunk and the Wallstreet Journal has no problem reporting you to the authorities for information uploaded to their Wikileaks competitor:
“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.”
As if the fear of being turned into a government with a bone to pick wasn’t bad enough, SafeHouse’s security mechanisms are less than stellar. Applebaum, one of the lead developers of the Tor anonymity network called out SafeHosue for a poor implementation of SSL. Despite the option to browse using a secure connection over HTTPS, the site doesn’t actually switch from the insecure connection. This opens up the possibility for data interception which could give a man in the middle an almost clear picture of who you are which completely destroys any anonymity associated with SafeHouse.