Updates to this story
War has been declared on the internet between hackers backing Wikileaks and companies who have withdrawn support for the website. The hackers have already launched attacks against several companies and we can reveal that more are on the cards.
This week a hacker group, calling itself Anonymous, led a series of attacks called Operation: Payback. They targeted MasterCard, which stopped processing donations to Wikileaks. It managed to take MasterCard's website offline yesterday with a series of DDoS attacks, effectively crippling much of MasterCard's online services.
MasterCard is mostly back online today. It issued the following statement:
“MasterCard has made significant progress in restoring full-service to its corporate website. Our core processing capabilities have not been compromised and cardholder account data has not been placed at risk. While we have seen limited interruption in some web-based services, cardholders can continue to use their cards for secure transactions globally.”
Today, Visa is in the crosshairs. Visa's website came under attack from hackers and is currently down. It is likely to see sustained attacks throughout the day, with web services unlikely to resume until some time tomorrow.
The prosecutor leading the sexual assault case against Julian Assange in Sweden has come under attack. The prosecutor website, www.aklagare.se, was targeted and taken down. We managed to briefly access it to view a statement on the attack, but it was quickly down again within minutes.
Security firm PandaLabs was the first to report the attack on the Swedish prosecutor website and now PandaLabs' own website is offline, suggesting it may also have suffered an attack.
The Swiss Post Office bank PostFinance, which recently froze Assange's assets, was also on the hackers' blacklist, with its website experiencing difficulties following DDoS attacks.
There have also been some reports that Amazon, which terminated Wikileaks' hosting on its service, has been attacked, but its website is currently online. Likewise, PayPal is under attack but is also currently online. Both websites are likely to suffer further attacks later today and tomorrow in the next wave of Operation: Payback.
In a message from Anonymous yesterday Twitter was marked for a major attack due to accusations that it is censoring Wikileaks to prevent it from trending. So far Twitter has remained online, but there is little doubt that some disruption will be seen to its service over the coming days.
Today Facebook banned the Operation: Payback page for violation of the terms of service, which Anonymous appears not to have taken kindly to, so it is likely that it too has joined the long list of targets which will be DDoSed.
Many of the Operation: Payback websites and accounts have been suspended. A number of its Twitter accounts have been deleted, while some of its website were periodically down. It is not known if this is a counter-attack from government agencies, security firms, other hackers, or simply a suspension from the web hosts themselves, but the hackers have quickly brought things back online or replaced accounts with new ones.