Update: 12/9 4:40PM PST
Last week, a growing number of attackers worked to prevent access to WikiLeaks, primarily through various forms of denial of service attacks. But, as I mentioned in an earlier article, there is a significant subculture of free information among those in the computer security community.
The free information people began to fight back this week. MasterCard began to refuse to accept payments of donations to WikiLeaks, so their site became the next victim of a denial of service attack, called “Operation Payback.” PayPal was also targeted. It’s dangerous on a public web site to divulge too much about what’s behind Internet attacks, so I’ll leave the description at that.
Visa and Amazon are also possible targets, since they have taken efforts to deny WikiLeaks ability to continue to exist. Amazon had briefly hosted the WikiLeaks homepage, but kicked the site off after a few days.
What’s fascinating is to watch the online discussions on security web sites. There is no consensus regarding WikiLeaks. In many respects, it’s like the infighting within the Republican Party over the degree to which the Tea Party should drive the agenda. But in the hacker world, this can turn into a large online brawl. The next week will be most interesting to watch.
Update: Sarah Palin’s PAC has now been brought down as well. Visa was attacked, too. So was Amazon, but they have more horsepower than the group could tie up. And Amazon is now selling the WikiLeaks cables, though they claim they aren’t being hypocrites by doing so.
You can also read a good article explaining how these attacks work.