"Operation Payback": WikiLeaks Supporters Bring Down MasterCard Website in Cyber-Attack

"Hactivist" WikiLeaks supporters have lashed out at MasterCard, unleashing a series of denial of service attacks on the company's website in response to MasterCard's decision to cut business ties with the whisteblower site. MasterCard is of course the latest in a string of companies, including PayPal, Visa, and Amazon, to stop doing business with WikiLeaks in the wake of controversy surrounding a new batch of leaked government cables.

As reported by the Huffington Post:

So-called "hacktivists" operating under the label "Operation Payback" claimed responsibility in a Twitter message for causing technological problems at MasterCard, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks on Tuesday.

The pro-WikiLeaks vengeance campaign appeared to be taking the form of denial of service attacks in which computers are harnessed – sometimes surreptitiously – to jam target sites with mountains of requests for data, knocking them out of commission.

Per Hellqvist, a security specialist with the firm Symantec, said a network of web activists called Anonymous appeared to be behind many of the attacks. The group, which has previously focused on the Church of Scientology and the music industry, is knocking offline websites seen as hostile to WikiLeaks.

Meanwhile, PayPal has fessed up to its reasons for dropping WikiLeaks -- because of the State Department's untrue scare tactics:

[PayPal]'s vice-president of platform, Osama Bedier, told an internet conference the site had decided to freeze WikiLeaks's account on 4 December after government representatives said it was engaged in illegal activity. "State Dept told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward," he told the LeWeb conference in Paris.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at December 8, 2010, 7:25am

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