Following Amazon’s decision to drop hosting for Wikileaks, hacker group Anomymous has unleashed a storm of Internet denial of service attacks against PayPal, Visa and MasterCard with Amazon named the next target.
The so-called hackvists have already struck the front web pages for credit card giants Visa and MasterCard with both sites being down for visitors intermittently and have issued an open call for others to join in the distributed attacks against some of the firms which chose to withdraw commercial services from Wikileaks, presumably under pressure from the US government.
Websites for the Anonymous group have in turn also come under attack as the tit-for-tat hacktivist exchanges threaten to escalate into a full scale cyberwar. Rather than relying on botnets created by the spread of malware, hacker group Anonymous is calling for supporters to voluntarily install a denial of service botnet tool.
“Hello World. We are Anonymous. What you do or do not know about us is irrelevant. We have decided to write to you, the media, and all citizens of the free world at large to inform you of the message, our intentions, potential targets, and our ongoing peaceful campaign for freedom,” said Anonymous in a blog post.
“The message is simple: freedom of speech. Anonymous is peacefully campaigning for freedom of speech everywhere in all forms. Freedom of speech for: the internet, for journalism and journalists, and citizens of the world at large. Regardless of what you think or have to say; Anonymous is campaigning for you.”
Authorities have been quick to act with the Dutch prosecutor announcing the arrest of a 16-year-old boy who has apparently confessed to attacks on MasterCard and Visa. Infamous chat site 4Chan has played a part in hosting the calls for its members to join in on the cyber attacks.
A Wikileaks spokesman said that the organisation “neither condemn nor applaud” the hack attacks and that the controversial leak site believes “they are a reflection of public opinion on the actions of the targets.”
Anonymous may have bitten off more than it can chew by attempting to target the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon. “We cannot attack Amazon, currently," Anonymous admitted in a tweet. “We don't have enough forces."
Underlying payment systems may be less robust than the web sites themselves but so far PayPal, which has itself been subject to an attack on the payment system directly, said that the eBay subsidiary hadn’t experienced any down time.
Yet with the hacks gaining wide spread publicity it’s possible than many more Operation Payback volunteers may yet participate which could be more of a threat.