Is WikiLeaks engaged in 'cyber war'?

By JOHN D SUTTER / CNN.com

(CNN) — Media outlets and a Twitter feed this week lobbed a controversial term into the public debate about cyber attacks over WikiLeaks:

“CYBERWAR,” the WikiLeaks’ European Twitter feed declared, linking to a blog post of the same title.

“WikiLeaks Cyberwar!” read a CBS blog headline.

“Cyberwar erupts over WikiLeaks funding cut,” wrote RFI, the international public radio network.

Despite these bold proclamations, internet security experts said the WikiLeaks-related attacks are anything but cyber war — not that these same experts are exactly sure what a cyber war would look like, or if one has ever occurred.

The WikiLeaks saga reads like a high-tech spy novel — one packed with government secrets, icy Cold War bunkers, shady networks of anonymous hackers and, most recently, the disruption of American financial institutions.

The battle over the site — which has come under fire from the United States for publishing private diplomatic communications — escalated this week as apparent WikiLeaks’ supporters crashed the websites of PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, which had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

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