'Anonymous' attacks Visa.com, Mastercard.com in support of WikiLeaks
Mastercard users found a blank page greeting them if they tried to log on to Mastercard.com Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, Visa.com was not working. A group in support of WikiLeaks has attacked a number of sites as part of its "Operation Payback."
The attack comes after Mastercard,Visa, Paypal and a number of other payment processing companies stopped donation transactions to the WikiLeaks group. A Paypal executive said the company stopped after pressure from the U.S. State Department.
The group taking credit for the attacks calls itself, Anonymous and likely got its start on one of the message boards on the 4chan site. The group has said it has 9,000 members that work together as a "hive mind" to inflict chaos on the Web and to fight for perceived injustices.
The attacks launched by Anonymous often are called distributed denial-of-service attacks, or DDOS attacks. So many page requests will be made to a Web site, that the site's servers will become overwhelmed. The attacks have to be targeted, well organized and well timed to be effective. It is likely being launched through a LOIC, an application that allows multiple computers to be controlled by one administrator. Gizmodo explains how the program works here.
Other possible targets could include Paypal, EveryDNS.net, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's Web site, and the Swiss bank PostFinance, as all have severed ties with WikiLeaks, TechCrunch reports.
The Operation Payback site said it has launched the attack to show "pro-copyright organizations that people do not like their practices." But as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the site was showing an error message, the result of another group launching a counterattack on the site.
The group had also been taken off Facebook and Twitter, according to ReadWriteWeb.
Mastercard said there was no impact on cardholders' ability to use their cards; however the BBC reports an authentication service for online payments known as Mastercard's SecureCode had been disrupted.
The New York Times Lede blog links to this video, which purports to be a statement from Anonymous:
| December 8, 2010; 8:19 AM ET
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