Anonymous vs The Banks


Written by Seun Mustapha
13 Monday 13th December 2010

Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock for the past week then you've heard all about Julian Assange and the wikileaks controversy. After already embarrassing the American administration with the release of the 'Afghan war files', a cache of secret documents related to the ongoing Iraq and Afghan conflicts, wikileaks followed up by threatening to release a quarter of a million US internal diplomatic cables to selected members of the press and the public at large via their site. Of course the US were not too pleased with this immediately coming down on the site and it's owner with accusations of terrorism, rape, putting American lives in danger, and contravening a near 200 year old espionage law that carries the threat of a death sentence.


Last Thursday the internet pay giant PayPal announced they would be restricting access to any wikileaks funds going through them "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.” Soon afterwards, Mastercard followed suit, within a few hours the wikileaks domain was unreachable, under suspected heavy Distributed Denial of Service* attack.That's when the internet got mad and decided to get even and the first civil cyberwar was underway. Fortunately for all business involved, this started on a weekend. Great timing anon!
*What's a DDOS attack you ask?  It's basically where a web client is used to send large amounts packets to an unsuspecting server aiming to overload it and get it taken down by its domain host for using too much bandwidth. This is what happens:
Here's how it played out for those of you that decided to go out and stuff instead.
An internet 'hacktivist' known as 'th3 j3st3r' launched the initial DDOS against the wikileaks site. Th3 j3st3r claims to be ex-US military, working alone to defend his country from online terrorism. His past targets had been exclusively online Jihadist sites, normally only taking down sites for a few hours then bragging about it on his wordpress blog for the next month or so.
Operation Payback was announced via various Twitter feeds and .jpegs posted up in all the usual places (4chan, Internet Relay Chat). For the first time the inevitable DDOS came via an opt-in botnet (that is, it was crowd-sourced) with the attack tool (named Low Orbit Ion Cannon, or LOIC) also available in javascript format meaning the tool could be widely used from most browsers and smartphones. 
Operation Payback launched an attack on the PayPal site taking the whole thing down completely, rendering it useless. Attacks were announced against several high profile finance sites - was the first to go down, in response to having frozen Assange's bank account.
Over the weekend more sites were hit including, the first time a government owned site had been targeted and owned ( was only down for twelve minutes but it's still history). In retaliation most of the wikileaks mirrors and some more sites we wont mention here were hit. The tit-for-tat attacks carried on into and over the weekend. 
So with the dust settled for now what's the score on the door in the battle between teenaged internet neeks (nerd/geeks) and the EMPIRE? 
Operation Payback
Site Who are they? Total Downtime Major credit/debit card company 11:00 Major credit/debit card company 12:00 Blog for major e-commerce business that closed Assange's account 08:19 Financial services unit of Swiss Post who closed Assange's account          33:07 Site of Assange's Swedish prosecutors 13:00 Domain Name System managers who removed support for Wikileaks domain name 00:31 Site of US senator Joe Lieberman, who pressured hosting providers to cut off Wikileaks 00:12
ADVBYRA.SE Site of lawyer of the two girls who were allegedly raped and/or assaulted by Julian Assange 05:11 Site of controversial US senator, Sarah Palin who said Assange 'should be hunted down like Al-Qaeda' 00:25

84 hours 


The 'Man'
Site Who are they? Total Downtime Site used for organising the Anon troops Gone forever! Another wiki that specialised in coordinating raids and providing instructions Gone forever!
4chan Where it all started approx 2hrs
Twitter Feeds used to report on progress and for calls-to-arms approx 37 pages removed
Facebook Pages used to promote attacks on Assange's detractors 3 pages removed 
Total   Does it even matter?  
RESULT:   ANONYMOUS OWNED (for now at least)


In the aftermath of the attacks Anon has announced Operation Leakspin wherein teenage hacker wannabees are going to trawl through all 250,000 cables until they find something bigger than all the professional journalists that have had the cables for the last two weeks have found and then use it to expose the government or something. This will likely end in huge amounts of fail also. The main thing the events of this weekend have shown is how quickly these things can escalate, how both sides operate and how advanced both sides are becoming. One thing for sure is that the battle is in no way over yet... 


 Twitter feed of Operation Payback (no longer available)


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