Several news agencies are reporting that WikiLeaks supporters have shutdown credit card company MasterCard and money transfer company Paypal today in retailiation for terminating WikiLeaks’ accounts.
Paypal has admitted yesterday that the U.S. State Department pressured it to cancel the account. But the State Department denied Paypal’s claim.
The U.S. Government’s overreaction to the leaks is igniting a worldwide cyberwar.
The following are reports by various news outlets.
(DailyMail newspaper) — Computer hackers have sent one of the world’s biggest credit card companies into meltdown in revenge for cutting off payments to the WikiLeaks website.
The attack was launched by a shadowy international group called ‘Anonymous’ which said MasterCard had been targeted for freezing the account of the whistleblowing site.
The devastating blow to MasterCard, as well as the online payment network PayPal and a Swiss bank, came on one of the busiest online shopping days of the year.
There were reports this morning that the attacks had gone on through the night.
Yesterday, a six-hour stoppage is thought to have affected hundreds of thousands of shoppers worldwide and highlights how vulnerable the world’s computer systems are to attack.
It is thought just a few dozen ‘hacktivists’ launched the electronic onslaught, which was taken up by other supporters.
The ‘distributed denial of service’ (DDoS) attack involved around 2,000 computers bombarding the website’s host computers with requests for information, causing them to crash.
WikiLeaks has been publishing classified U.S. diplomatic cables, to the fury of Washington authorities.
They have lobbied to cut off all support for the website which they are desperate to shut down.
(The New York Times) — A group of Internet activists who took credit for attacks on the Web site of PayPal on Monday, and knocked a Swiss postal service bank offline later the same day, said they were behind attacks on MasterCard on Wednesday.
The group, which calls itself Anonymous, explained in a statement that the attacks were an expansion of what it calls Operation Payback, an anti-corporate effort that now includes taking revenge on companies that have suspended WikiLeaks accounts.
Early Wednesday morning, the group announced on Twitter: “WE ARE GLAD TO TELL YOU THAT http://www.mastercard.com/ is DOWN AND IT’S CONFIRMED!”
Later in the day the activists carried out a similar attack on Visa.com.
The group, which started Operation Payback in response to efforts to shut down file-sharing sites, said that it had carried out a distributed denial of service attack against MasterCard.com — essentially flooding the site with traffic to slow it down or knock it offline.
Just before 8 a.m. Eastern time, MasterCard released a statement that said:
MasterCard is experiencing heavy traffic on its external corporate website – MasterCard.com. We are working to restore normal speed of service. There is no impact whatsoever on our cardholders ability to use their cards for secure transactions.
(The BBC) — MasterCard, which stopped processing payments to the whistle-blowing site, said the attack had had “no impact” on people’s ability to use their cards. But the BBC has been contacted by a payment firm that said its customers had “a complete loss of service.” In particular, it said that an authentication service for online payments known as MasterCard’s SecureCode, had been disrupted.
Supporters of WikiLeaks were angered on Tuesday, when a spokesman for MasterCard, James Issokson, said in a statement, “MasterCard is currently in the process of working to suspend the acceptance of MasterCard cards on WikiLeaks.”
(The Washington Post) — Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank, Sarah Palin and others who have acted against the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange.
The online attacks are part of a wave of support for WikiLeaks that is sweeping the Internet. Twitter was choked with messages of solidarity for the group, while the site’s Facebook page hit 1 million fans.
Late Wednesday, Operation Payback itself appeared to run into problems, as many of its sites went down. It was unclear who was behind the counterattack.
MasterCard is the latest in a string of U.S.-based Internet companies – including Visa, Amazon.com, PayPal Inc. and EveryDNS – to cut ties to WikiLeaks in recent days amid intense U.S. government pressure. PayPal was not having problems Wednesday but the company said it faced “a dedicated denial-of-service attack” on Monday.
Meanwhile, a website tied to former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin came under cyberattack, she said. In a posting on the social networking site Facebook last week, Palin called Assange “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands.” An aide said staff moved quickly to secure the website and no data was compromised.
WikiLeaks’ extensive releases of secret U.S. diplomatic cables have embarrassed U.S. allies, angered rivals, and reopened old wounds across the world. U.S. officials in Washington say other countries have curtailed their dealings with the U.S. government because of WikiLeaks’ actions.
Undeterred, WikiLeaks released more confidential U.S. cables Wednesday.
The most surprising cable of the day came from a U.S. diplomat in Saudi Arabia after a night on the town.
“The underground nightlife of Jiddah’s elite youth is thriving and throbbing,” the memo said. “The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available – alcohol, drugs, sex – but all behind closed doors.”
U.S. officials have directed their anger at Assange, but others have begun to ask whether Washington shares the blame for the diplomatic uproar.
“The core of all this lies with the failure of the government of the United States to properly protect its own diplomatic communications,” Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Wednesday, criticizing the fact that tens of thousands of U.S. government employees had access to the cables.