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Cyber Wars: ‘Anonymous’ Hacker Group Declares War On WikiLeaks’ Censorers

by on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm EDT in Politics, WikiLeaks, World

A hacker collective, identified as ‘Anonymous’, has declared war on WikiLeaks’ censorers.  The group has earned itself a reputation in the tech world for targeting the entertainment and software security industries who lobby for pro-Copyright (anti-piracy) laws.

The controversial UK Digital Economy Act, passed June 8, 2010, which liberal critics claim is “too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available,” stoked the ire of the hacker group.  ZDNet reports the group’s attacks only began after an Indian security group called AiPlex Software launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults on file-sharing sites:

Anonymous responded with its own DDoS attacks in a campaign called ‘Operation Payback’, first targeting the websites of US rights holder groups the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), then turning to smaller companies such as AiPlex and UK law firms who act on behalf of rights holders.

With all the recent DDoS attacks and corporate complicity in bringing down WikiLeaks, the hacker collective decided to take a little break from their usual activities to lend a hand to WikiLeaks.  They redirected their angst towards those companies assisting the US government in shutting WikiLeaks down.  The group claimed in a tweet, thirty minutes ago:

I should probably clarify something. I’m not anti-government, anti-establishment, or anything of that sort. I’m just anti-…anti-Wikileaks.

WikiLeaks was dealt a crucial blow on Friday when online payment service provider PayPal terminated WikiLeaks’ account, thereby closing its principal method for receiving financial donations from supporters.  PayPal additionally froze 61K EUR held by the whistle blower group.  Meanwhile, in Switzerland, The Swiss Bank Post Finance announced today that it has frozen “Julian Assange’s defense fund and personal assets (31K EUR) after reviewing him as a ‘high profile’ individual.”

‘Anonymous’ immediately set its sites on PayPal, and in particular its PayPal blog.  Their DDoS attack on PayPal’s blog “lasted for 8 hours (not including the time where the website resolved to a 403 error) and caused the blog to experience 75 service interruptions.”  The groups insists that ‘Operation Payback’ still remains in effect, despite their recent shift in attacks in support of WikiLeaks.

The ‘Anonymous’ organizers explained their rationale for lending a helping hand to WikiLeaks:

“While we don’t have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same: we want transparency (in our case in copyright) and we counter censorship. The attempts to silence WikiLeaks are long strides closer to a world where we can not say what we think and not express how we feel. We can not let this happen, that is why we will find out who is attacking WikiLeaks and with that find out who tries to control our world. What we are going to do when we found them? Except for the usual DDoSing, word will be spread that whoever tries to silence or discourage WikiLeaks, favors world domination rather than freedom and democracy.”

Amazon Web Services and — both companies who dropped WikiLeaks as a customer last week — are thought to be the next prime targets for ‘Anonymous’.

Meanwhile WikiLeaks has announced their servers in Sweden are once again under DDoS attack, and that the UK has now received a new warrant for Julian Assange’s arrest, and may issue it shortly.  ZDNet UK reports:

The Press Association said that Scotland Yard had received the paperwork for Assange’s arrest under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) from Sweden. Assange is believed to be in the south-east of England.

The arrest warrant was first issued in November, but was rejected by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which processes EAWs on legal grounds. A second was sent on Friday, according to the BBC. Assange is wanted under charges of ‘sex by surprise’ with two Swedish women, a charge which only seems to exist in Sweden.

A Soca spokesman declined to say whether the agency had passed an arrest warrant to the Metropolitan Police.

“We cannot confirm or deny whether an arrest warrant has been received, or sent on to Scotland Yard,” said the spokesman.

In the event Assange is arrested, he has promised a ‘poison pill’ in retaliation:

Julian Assange has distributed to fellow hackers an encrypted ‘poison pill’ of damaging secrets, thought to include details on BP and Guantanamo Bay.

He believes the file is his ‘insurance’ in case he is killed, arrested or the whistleblowing website is removed permanently from the internet.

Mr Assange – understood to be lying low in Britain – could be arrested by Scotland Yard officers as early as tomorrow.

Stay tuned …


I found the ‘Anonymous’ hacker group’s website entitled Operation:Payback for those interested in learning more about what they advocate for:

AnonOps: Fighting for freedom on the Internet!

We are an anonymous, decentralized movement which fights against censorship and copywrong. […]

Here is the group’s: Operation Avenge Assange manifesto.


The Guardian:  Julian Assange To Be Questioned By British Police

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is expected to appear in a UK court tomorrow after his lawyers said he would meet police to discuss a European extradition warrant from Sweden relating to alleged sexual assaults. […]

Mark Stephens, attorney for Julian Assange, told NBC that “No representation from Sweden will be in that meeting”.


The Guardian:  Julian Assange Is Arrested And Due To Appear In Court

  • WikiLeaks will continue releasing the leaked US embassy cables in spite of his arrest this morning. […]
  • Assange has also pre-recorded a video message, which WikiLeaks is due to release today. But the Guardian understands the organisation has no plans to release the insurance file of the remaining cables, which number more than 200,000. It has sent copies of the encrypted file to supporters around the world. These can be accessed only by using a 256-digit code. […]