The folks behind Anon are calling this operation, Operation Payback and are bringing down websites which have anything to do with blocking payments or funding to Wikileaks.
Anon members are actually members of the notorious 4Chan board who have their share of fun DDoSing websites. They have in the past taken down several popular sites including Tumblr, Gawker Media, RIAA and MPAA among others. Currently Visa.com is down, so it looks like they were able to hit the target this time too.
The Anonymous of 4chan have taken it up to defend WikiLeaks, at least on the web. In addition to creating hundreds of mirrors for WikiLeaks content and spreading them through torrents and file transfer sites, 4chan users have also launched severe DDoS attacks against many organizations that threaten the existence of WikiLeaks.
Among many other, Anonymous are targeting PayPal, MasterCard and PostFinance as these financial institutions openly prevented WikiLeaks from carrying out its financial transactions. The attacks against PayPal were not so effective as they could only take the PayPal blog down, however, 4chan users got more success with PostFinance and MasterCard. PostFinance, the bank that has frozen Julian Assange’s account, suffered an outage of more than 16 hours due to these DDoS attacks. However, not admitting that it was taken down by a bunch of notorious internet users, the bank issued a statement that the outage was caused by an overload of inquiries:
Access to www.postfinance.ch and thus also e-finance is currently overloaded owing to a multitude of online enquiries. The security of customer data is not affected.
More importantly, Anonymous were able to hack into and take down the MasterCard website for several hours. The website still fails to load for a lot of users. The operation has been called ‘Operation PayBack’ and the group behind it posts regular updates through its Twitter account @Anon_operation. Here is one of the tweets by the group confirming the attack on MasterCard:
WE ARE GLAD TO TELL YOU THAT http://www.mastercard.com/ is DOWN AND IT’S CONFIRMED! #ddos #wikileaksOperation:Payback(is a bitch!) #PAYBACKabout 6 hours ago via Chromed Bird
Facebook is undoubtedly as good as a large country and any decision it takes, directly affects a section of the world population. Therefore, when the world governments are despising the WikiLeaks, Facebook decides to stand up against this and takes a neutral position saying,
The WikiLeaks Facebook Page does not violate our content standards nor have we encountered any material posted on the page that violates our policies.
Yes. That is correct. As you all know by now, “our content standards” is as mysterious as the coca-cola formula because, Facebook just goes ahead and bans anything it feels is a threat or is feeding off Facebook’s success. Apparently, WikiLeaks is not much of a threat according to Facebook, so they will not follow the footsteps of Amazon.
This serves as the best diplomatic answer and as we can see, Facebook has refused an immediate ban, though it is keeping open its window of opportunity for a future possibility.
While on one hand, some journalists appreciate the free speech that Assange enjoys, other people want him arrested and brand WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization. With 1 million followers on Facebook, that sure makes WikiLeaks one of the largest terrorist organizations in this world.
What China blocked was only Wikileaks main site, wikileaks.org, however, they seem to have forgotten that Wikileaks.org has now moved to Wikileaks.ch and now has 76 100s of Wikileaks mirrors, making all those documents easily accessible to everyone in well, China among other places where Internet is accessible.
Thanks to Hughesey from View DNS for the tip, this page does show that Wikileaks.ch is still available and kicking in China. Oh and well it might not be so in maybe next few minutes or hours. So as long as you are in China, have fun reading Cablegate on Wikileaks.
WikiLeaks just reached the “he who must not be named” status on university campuses in the US. An US State Department official has warned students against naming WikiLeaks on Facebook and Twitter as it might hamper their job prospects.
The officer making this was once a student at the Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and has taken this step justifying it as,
engaging in these activities would call into question [a student’s] ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.
The US government is leaving no stone unturned to undo the damage. Taking down WikiLeaks, badmouthing them, going after Assange with assistance from the Interpol, the list is only the tip of the iceberg.
Here is the email as it appears,
From: Office of Career Services
Date: November 30, 2010 15:26:53 EST:
We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus
who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance.
The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.
In every disputed situation in this world, there are two sides and one of them is definitely safer than the other. PayPal, recently had to choose between being on the safe side or pissing off the US government and it chose the former.
With corporate brands like Amazon crumbling under the sheer pressure from the Government, shady PayPal is the last company we would expect to hold up against the government. This was not much of a choice. Rather, it was an imminent move in this situation.
WikiLeaks used PayPal to raise funds for hosting and other survival costs. eBay remarked on the shutdown by calling WikiLeaks’ activities illegal. The way with PayPal is- shutdown accounts first, talk later.
This is what the PayPal blog had to say,
PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal acceptable use policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.
PayPal has done this before. Freezing accounts, deducting balance on charges of abnormal activity spikes, you name it. However, this time, we cannot blame it all on PayPal. This was imminent and WikiLeaks should have moved their balance else than keeping it all with PayPal.
What’s with the new and super-protection facility WikiLeaks has moved to? Word is, it is a bunker inside the Pionen White Mountains in Sweden that can withstand a nuclear attack.
After being thrown out of PRG and Amazon, hosting WikiLeaks is a big issue as it is under constant attacks. On one hand, there is sheer political pressure and on the other hand, there are these hack attacks. Every hosting provider will plummet under these two. In the midst of this, Swedish Bahnhof has decided to host WikiLeaks and you can have a look inside the facility here.
There is only another nuclear bunker in the world that can host websites, the CyberBunker in the Netherlands. Both these bunkers were built by the military to house sensitive electronic equipment and this is perfect for rouges like WikiLeaks and The Pirate Bay.
Someone in the Cold-war era thought this up and today, after almost 20 years, it is serving an alternate purpose of cyber-warfare against the very same government. Surely, as a blast from the past, Bahnhof is still as cool as it used to be once.
The WikiLeaks website proudly announced moving to Amazon EC2 yesterday. This move was to make sure it can withstand DDoS attacks. The Amazon EC2 is a pay as you use service that piles up your account credit as per the bandwidth usage. That puts virtually no limit on usage and this gave the WikiLeaks website to stand any DDoS.
In a recent turn of events, the WikiLeaks website seems to have been gone without a trace and Amazon has absolutely nothing to say about this. Neither the main website, nor Cablegate is accessible anymore.
The main website and a sub-site devoted to the diplomatic documents were unavailable from the U.S. and Europe on Wednesday, as Amazon servers refused to acknowledge requests for data.
Amazon.com Inc. would not comment on its relationship with WikiLeaks or whether it forced the site to leave. Messages seeking comment from WikiLeaks were not immediately returned.
Moving to Amazon was finally a lost cause. Once again, the WikiLeaks website is a homeless wanderer like Assange himself. Amazon must have some answers about the unavailability. The WikiLeaks matter has gone global and much more than Amazon’s own reputation is at stake here.
The WikiLeaks whistleblower has finally made it to the list of candidates for TIME’s 2010 person of the year and there is a good chance that he will win it too.
Disclosing 250,000 confidential government documents pisses off many important and dangerous people and a stunt of this intensity needs some considerable guts. It seems like Julian Assange is a moral police, wanting to tame everything concerning the US banks, governments, military you name it.
Assange is at 80,000 votes into the race for the TIME’s 2010 person of the year. This page gives a brief description of his work and why he should be given the award.
The TIME website article talking about this writes,
Assange’s exploits have cemented him as a candidate for TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year — so much so that past TIME 100 honores went out on a limb to explain why he was their choice.
and describes Julian Assange as,
He is a new kind of whistle-blower: one made for the digital age.
The complete list of TIME’s person of the year nominations can be seen here. With the support of past TIME’s 100 honores, Assange has a fair chance of winning against the likes of Larry King, Miriam Were and Shannon Tavarez.