Cy­ber attacks mount in Wiki war

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

LONDON: Cy­ber ac­tivists strik­ing at com­pa­nies seen as en­e­mies of Wik­iLeaks sought to block the web­site of on­line pay­ment firm Money­book­ers yes­ter­day, but de­nied their cam­paign was in­tended to dam­age eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

There were also in­ter net calls for attacks on of­fi­cial Dutch web­sites fol­low­ing the ar­rest in The Hague on Thurs­day of a 16-year-old boy sus­pected of in­volve­ment in the on­line cam­paign.

The at­tack on Money­book­ers ap­peared to have blocked the site for about two min­utes at about 12.35pm but it came back on­line. Hack­ers vowed to con­tinue their as­sault.

“If we don’t panic, and we get big­ger, no one can stop us,” wrote a par­tic­i­pant in a chat room used by what the ac­tivists call Op­er­a­tion Pay­back.

A string of US in­sti­tu­tions has ended ser­vices to Wik­iLeaks af­ter the web­site pub­lished thou­sands of se­cret US diplo­matic re­ports that have caused strains be­tween Washington and sev­eral al­lies.

On­line re­tail and web-host- ing pow­er­house Ama­zon last week stopped host­ing the Wik­iLeaks web­site, and on Thurs­day briefly be­came the main tar­get of pro-Wik­iLeaks cam­paign­ers – be­fore they ad­mit­ted it was too big for them, for now.

Ac­tivists said Money­books had be­came a tar­get be­cause it had in­for med Wik­iLeaks in Au­gust it had closed its ac­count with the ser­vice to com­ply with in­ves­ti­ga­tions by sev­eral gov­ern­ments into pos­si­ble money laun­der­ing and other mat­ters.

There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse to a request for com­ment from Money­book­ers.

In a state­ment, the ac­tivists, who col­lec­tively call them­selves “Anony­mous”, said they were not hack­ers, but rather “av­er­age in­ter­net cit­i­zens”.

“We do not want to steal your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion or credit card num­bers. We also do not seek to at­tack crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture of com­pa­nies such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal or Ama­zon,” the state­ment said.

“Rather, we fo­cused on their cor­po­rate web­sites… their on­line “pub­lic face”.

“It is a sym­bolic ac­tion... Our goal is to raise aware­ness about Wik­iLeaks and the un­der­hand meth­ods em­ployed by the above com­pa­nies to im­pair Wik­iLeaks’ abil­ity to func­tion.”

The state­ment ap­peared to have been pub­lished sev­eral hours af­ter one by Wik­iLeaks which said the web­site had no links to the cy­ber attacks and nei­ther sup­ported nor con­demned them.

The state­ment quoted Wik­iLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafns­son as say­ing the attacks were “a re­flec­tion of pub­lic opin­ion on the ac­tions of the tar­gets”.

The teenage boy in the Nether­lands was ar­rested by a high-tech crime unit af­ter ad­mit­ting to attacks on the web­sites of two credit card com­pa­nies, MasterCard and Visa.

The boy, whose de­tails were not dis­closed, was due to ap­pear in court in Rotterdam yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

He was be­lieved to be part of a larger group of hack­ers un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, that par­tic­i­pated in so-called de­nial of ser­vice attacks, the pros­e­cu­tion said. Data and com­puter equip­ment were con­fis­cated dur­ing his ar­rest. On one in­ter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice used by the on­line cam­paign, sev­eral par­tic­i­pants de­bated whether to end the attacks and in­stead fo­cus on dis­cov­er­ing more em­bar­rass­ing ma­te­rial in the leaked doc­u­ments.

“We have at best given them a black eye. The game has changed… so must our strate­gies,” read a sug­ges­tion propos­ing “Op­er­a­tion Leak­spin.”

The idea would be to get hold of un­re­ported sto­ries buried in the thou­sands of ca­bles and post snip­pets all over the in­ter­net, the cam­paign par­tic­i­pant said. – Reuters

PIC­TURE: AP

PLUGGED: A sup­porter of Wik­iLeaks’ Ju­lian As­sange protests out­side the US Con­sulate in Hong Kong yes­ter­day.

PIC­TURE: AP

WIKID: A man holds up a sign as pro­test­ers sup­port Wik­iLeaks and Ju­lian As­sange, in Syd­ney, yes­ter­day.

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