WikiLeaks love-hate relationship with its multitude of readers seems to have taken a turn for the worse after a research expert unveiled that a hidden cache of leaked government emails belonging to the Turkish authorities had over 300 links to spying malware on its site.
Curiously enough, the affected emails appear to have been stolen from a server owned by the AKP party which currently governs Turkey.
And they seem to have surfaced a week before the attempted coup in mid-July, but eventually released on July 19, 2016.
The discovery of the malware-infected emails has been credited to Dr. Vesselin Bontchev, an assistant professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
He has confirmed that WikiLeaks has already deleted the link but added that the list was not comprehensible, and there was a risk that more booby-trapped files existed.
There are fears that readers who opened these emails and their attachments faced the risk of infecting themselves with malicious programs that include ransomware, droppers, and downloaders.
An alert has been issued out to users to watch out for the alleged unusual malware in emails that have been released.
Turkish politicians have been cautioned against opening their emails for fear that the malware is reportedly circulating in their email accounts.
Malware, which is short for malicious software, is a type of software that hackers use to interfere with a computer’s operations.
It can be used to infiltrate private computer systems, gather classified information or simply leave a nasty message.
In this instance, members of the Turkish political party have good reason to worry about their most intimate liaisons being infiltrated or even worse, exposed to their political rivals, or directly used for extortion.
Besides malicious defamation, there exists dangerous financial malware that can empty bank accounts.
In June 2014, an international effort named Tovar, blocked the spread of malware Zeus game over and managed to save many banking institutions losing huge sums and financial data.
The typical virus is a malware that replicates itself and spreads to other computers, with nasty consequences.
Spyware is malware popular with espionage agencies where they gather information and transmit to their servers.
Adware is malware that steals financial data.
According to The Registrar, the Bulgarian security expert, Dr. Bontchev, said possible spyware malware had been intercepted in an email dump, and that there does not appear to be processing done of any kind.
This would include a simple virus scan to detect the existence of any harmful intrusions, and hence the discovery has been labeled a raw dump.
What this means is that users of WikiLeaks in Turkey have been placed on a malware scare high alert.
Recent events in the Turkish capital, including the attempted coup in mid-July, could have provoked right-wing leaning politicians to initiate a phishing attack, and it cannot be ruled out that many of the malicious emails are stemming from phishing campaigns.
Experts warn that malware is stealthy, and can be used to spy and steal information from computers for long periods without the user being aware. Or they can be used to sabotage, or even cause harm to an operating system.
Regin is a typical villain spy malware that companies use to spy and steal data from computers of their rivals. Stuxnet is used to cause harm or sabotage.
The heat coming out of Turkey alleges that WikiLeaks was instrumental in publishing earlier incriminating information regarding female Turkish voters.
And this controversy about malware-infected emails can only add fuel to the controversy and brings to the fore ethical questions around the consequences of revealing information en masse without first checking for authenticity.
According to experts, any dumping of a data cache, however simple, is irresponsible and dangerous.
Common sense demands WikiLeaks should have vetted the trove for malware and hived it off their public system to safeguard the security of their users.
The Turkish emails were meant to expose personal data and therefore endanger people.
Decent practice calls for thorough investigations to mine facts and verify them.
A responsible journalist doesn’t dump a load of alarming facts and raw materials to their readers.