On Friday evening, WikiLeaks sent out a tweet with a cryptic message that's had social media in a frenzy. The tweet said that WikiLeaks has changed its "Stochastic Terminator" algorithm. But what does that even mean? Was a dead-man's switch activated? Is Julian Assange alive or dead, and is he even in the Ecuadorian Embassy?
The changes comes a little over a week after WikiLeaks originally released its Stochastic Terminator, when Julian Assange still had internet access in the Embassy.On Twitter, one user mused that the CIA had taken over the WikLeaks account because normally, whenever the organization changes something, Julian usually appears on the balcony to make an announcement. However, due to the gravity of the current political situation, it may not be safe for him to make a public appearance as he's had in the past.But another running theory is that WikiLeaks has simply updated the release algorithm to speed up their releases and/or to change the order in which they're released.
The word "stochastic" essentially means a random variable. So, the Stochastic Terminator is basically a random method of ending the Podesta Emails dump.
Since last week when Ecuador terminated Assange's internet access, speculation has swirled around the WikiLeaks founder and editor about whether he is alive or dead. The uncertainty regarding his safety may have triggered a nationwide DDOS attack by hackers who, according the The Guardian, weaponized digitized devices like webcams, to bring down sites like PayPal and Spotify. Even thermostats and refrigerators were vulnerable if they were connected to the internet.
Fusion also reported several news and aggregator sites like Twitter, Reddit, Slack, BBC, the New York Times, and CNN all experienced outages during the attack.
In response to the hacks, WikiLeaks finally tweeted at around 5 p.m. ET on Friday afternoon that Julian was not dead, but is still alive and well.
"Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing. We ask supporters to stop taking down the US internet. You proved your point."WikiLeaks volunteer Kelly Kolisnik later mused that the organization had asked supporters to stop taking the internet down in the U.S. and the attack "seemingly stopped." It was not long after the DDOS attacks stopped that WikiLeaks then released its message about its Stochastic Terminator algorithm, and that has people wondering even more just what in the world is going on with Julian Assange. Some social media users are wondering if WikiLeaks has activated its dead-man's switch, which I wrote about several months ago. In the event that the data dumps don't occur on schedule, those who downloaded the torrent insurance file will automatically be issued a key, or a "dead-man's switch," to unlock them.
There seems to be a heightened urgency to recent messages coming from the organization's tweets, and its new Stochastic Terminator message could mean several things. It could be a message to Julian like a game of Marco Polo. If Assange does not respond, then a dead-man's switch could be activated, which would dump all files.
Although WikiLeaks insists Julian is alive and well, a portion of his supporters remain understandably skeptical. On Tuesday (after his internet was cut off), a raid van appeared outside the Ecuadorian Embassy where Assange has been granted asylum for the last several years.Could the massive nationwide DDOS attacks been perpetrated by a government entity, and not supporters of WikiLeaks? Was it merely a test run to explore the effectiveness of an even bigger, more malicious attack in the future? It seems unlikely, but then again, the WikiLeaks Podesta Emails have proven that Americans really should question the government and its intentions. Of particular note in all this is that the attacks took out several sites where Americans get their news, which makes the attacks more suspicious in nature.
Another theory regarding the Stochastic Terminator is that it isn't a schedule of document releases, but that it could mean that the algorithm is actually running the Twitter account. So, in this case, would the change in the Stochastic Terminator algorithm mean a dead-man's switch was activated? If so, why was no message sent out that it was?
As we know Julian Assange is (most likely) confined to a room within the Ecuadorian Embassy with no internet and with limited means of communicating to his associates on the outside. Worse, it's also possible that Assange is not even in the Embassy anymore and has been quietly taken into custody. It would explain the series of unusual events leading up to and after his internet access was cut.
[Featured Image by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Imags]