Buttressing the notion that Wikileaks is part criminal mob and part terrorist group, site-inspired hackers struck back at corporate entities, private individuals, and government entities they believe have persecuted Julian Assange.
According to AP:
“WikiLeaks supporters struck back Wednesday at perceived enemies of the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange, launching hacker attacks against MasterCard, Swedish prosecutors, a Swedish lawyer and a Swiss group that froze Assange’s bank account.
“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.”
MasterCard is reporting “heavier than usual traffic” but has otherwise refused to comment.
“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.”
Launching denial of service attacks — in which a server is overwhelmed with traffic, freezing other computer users out, essentially shutting the site down — is a crime in most countries. It would appear that, once again, Wikileaks and its supporters are demonstrating a flagrant disregard for the law when it suits their whims.
Mind, if Wikileaks feels ill-used by businesses cutting off services, there are remedies in the courts. But that would not be in keeping with the Wikileaks approach of “cyber anarchy,” which some might well term “cyber terrorism.”
Experts in computer security have worried about various types of computer hackers. Terrorist groups or even nation-state actors could use cyber attacks to bring down the technological infrastructure of a country such as the United States. Malicious hackers have developed viruses for decades to disrupt and destroy computer networks, wiping our data, causing computers to become inoperative.
The Wikileaks-inspired attacks seem to be the first instance of revenge hacking, attempting to specifically attack perceived enemies for perceived slights. So far, the targets seem to be selective and the attacks pretty much of the nuisance variety. Having attacked Western Civilization by acquiring military and diplomatic secrets and releasing them to the Internet, Wikileaks and its supporters have taken the matter one more step, albeit a small one, with direct attacks on computer systems.
The precedent has been made for more far-ranging, more destructive cyber attacks. Al Qaeda or some other terrorist group may one day decide to eschew the suicide bomber for the cyber attack to spread terror and exact revenge. A denial of service attack on, say, a major bank may not have the cache of an explosion in a public square, but it ultimately may be far more deadly.
Wikileaks and its allies have shown the way to a possible dark new future.
Source: Hackers strike back to support WikiLeaks founder in ‘Operation Payback’, Raphael Satter, Jill Lawless, AP, December 8th, 2010