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Cyber-war erupts over WikiLeaks

A ‘cyber-war’ has erupted, with Twitter apparently suspending the account of a group that urged cyber attacks on Visa to ‘avenge’ WikiLeaks.


The Twitter account @Anon_Operation had been tweeting links advising its 22,000 followers how to attack credit card giant Visa’s site, before the Twitter account was suspended.

One participant in the attack told SBS, via email, that up to 4,000 users of an alternative network, 4chan, were “attacking whatever Anon aims us at.”

“Imagine Anon being Rambo and the rest of us “Users” make up a bazooka,” the user said.

“Now Anon has the power to point us in any direction and ‘push the button’ suspending any and all traffic to wherever we are directed, destroying anything and everything in our path,” the user says.

The suspension sparked a storm of tweets, with real-time results for searches on “anon_operation” surpassing 500 within minutes.

The group re-emerged with a new Twitter handle, spelled differently, within minutes of the suspension, announcing:

“Old account was @anon_operation suspence, I hope Twitter does not try to shut us down again #DDos,” (sic).

Five minutes later, the new account tweeted:

“Both because the government wants to silence us? will find the secret of you! #wikileaks #ddos #payback,” (sic).

It added that it was “very angry with Paypal.”

Followers of the @Anon_Operation account expressed their outrage in droves, though there was as yet no statement from the social media site about why the account was suspended.

“Shame on Twitter for blocking @Anon_Operation – #PayPal, #MasterCard & #Visa was hacked as payback for #WikiLeaks,” tweeted @yasirnasir.

The criticism was quickly echoed in Spanish by various other users.

The website linked to the Twitter feed, www.anonops.net, also appeared to have stopped working at the time of the Twitter suspension.

Another apparent incarnation of the account, @AnonOpsNet, tweeted:

“Intermitent issues with AnonOps’ IRC. In the meantime, keep firing! Current target: www.visa.com. THEY ARE UP NOW! #wikileaks #payback,”

Visa site down

Visa.com went down instantaneously at 4:00 pm (2100 GMT) as ‘Anonymous’ apparently launched a coordinated cyber attack announced on the Twitter feed @Anon_Operation.

“Operation Payback. TARGET: WWW.VISA.COM :: FIRE FIRE FIRE!!! WEAPONS,” the message said.

Members of “Anonymous,” in an online chat with news agency AFP on Wednesday, vowed to extend their cyber campaign to anyone with an “anti-WikiLeaks agenda.”

They also extended their cyber assaults to the websites of Palin and US Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Palin has described WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” and asked “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

Her website, SarahPac.com, came under cyber attack from a “small group of Anonymous protesters,” according to Sean-Paul Carroll, a threat researcher at PandaLabs, the malware detection laboratory of Panda Security. Carroll said the Palin website went down for about six minutes.

The group has already taken credit for temporarily taking down the websites of Mastercard, PayPal, the Swiss Post Office bank and others with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

In a typical DDoS attack, a large number of computers are commanded to simultaneously visit a website, overwhelming its servers, slowing service or knocking it offline completely.

Not only has Twitter intervened in ‘Anonymous’ activity, but Facebook has also tried to shut down the ‘groups’ page, reports Mashable.

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