As the world descends further into absolute insanity, and humankind steps up efforts to hasten it’s demise in time for the end of the Mayan calendar, the friction between the two sides of the WikiLeaks affair has spilled over into an outright cyber war.
The groups 4Chan and Anonymous have promised digital retaliation against organizations and governments who are after WikiLeaks and it’s figurehead, Julian Assange.
Their threats were quickly followed through with action, under what they call Operation:Payback, with an attack on the Swiss Bank, PostFinance who’s website (http://postfinance.ch/) has been knocked clean off the internet. It has been down for around 20 hours and remains offline as of this writing.
PostFinance froze Julian Assange’s account, claiming that he had lied on paperwork, with regards to his place of residence.
The website of the Swedish prosecutors office (http://aklagare.se/) has also been taken offline by 4Chan & Anonymous hackers, and also remains offline as of this posting.
A spokesperson for the hacking group, going by the handle “Coldblood”, has said that anybody “bowing down to government pressure” will be targeted.
In all cases, the corporations under attack, claim that they took their respective actions as a matter of private policy decisions, and not under the influence of the government. This does not seem to have convinced or abated the group’s activities, which included taking down portions of PayPal’s website today. Although, their primary site and payment service was not affected.
Today, Visa announced that its account holders will no longer be able to use its payment service to donate money to WikiLeaks. So it remains to be seen just how far this cyber war is going to go.
Not all hackers are on WikiLeaks’ side however. For weeks, WikiLeaks itself has found itself under attack by “hacktivist” groups, and 4Chan’s website itself came under attack shortly after their declaration of war.
It would seem some very high-stakes battle lines are being drawn in the ether-reaches of cyberspace, that could have serious potential economic and other consequences.
Update: Mastercard’s website (http://www.mastercard.com) has now been taken down by the attacks.
Update 2 (4:00pm ET): PayPal Inc, one of the companies being targeted by the group Anonymous has now admitted that it suspended all donations to the the Wau Holland Foundation in Germany, a group which was accepting donations on WikiLeak’s behalf due to pressure from the US State Department.
From The Gaurdian:
PayPal’s vice-president of platform, Osama Bedier, told an internet conference the site had decided to freeze WikiLeaks’ account on 4 December after government representatives said it was engaged in illegal activity.
“[The US] state department told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward,” he told the LeWeb conference in Paris, adding: “We … comply with regulations around the world, making sure that we protect our brand.”
Though he later reined back the comments, saying that PayPal had not been contacted directly by the state department but had seen a letter it had sent to WikiLeaks, his remarks will undoubtedly intensify criticism from supporters of WikiLeaks that the site is being targeted for political reasons.
Update 3 (4:10pm ET): Visa.com’s website goes down.
Update 4 (4:14pm ET): The payment processing firm used by WikiLeaks is announcing a lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard for cutting off their payment accounts.