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

by on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm 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. […]



  • Dec 6th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Bit of a sticky wicket, (to quote the English), this WickiLeaks, wouldn’t you say? There’s the problem with releasing classified information, but on the other hand there’s the issue of living in a free country, where freedom of speech is guaranteed. The cretin who stole all this info should be tried and jailed, but Assange is only publishing what he was presented with. Can you imagine what would happen to him if this were China?

    • | 412#
      Dec 6th, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      I agree. The alleged source is US Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, and he could get 52 years.

      But as far as WikiLeaks is concerned, they are operating merely as a publisher (in much the same way as the NY Times, Washington Post, and 17 other newspapers did during the release of the Pentagon Papers).

      Assange isn’t even an American citizen, wasn’t on US soil when the information was passed to him, and certainly wasn’t a US government employee who had access to this information and lifted it.

      I thought we learned from the Scooter Libby trial that the first government employee to leak is the guilty party. The recipient (Bob Novak) who publishes it can’t be held on espionage charges, only his source.

    • | 420#
      Dec 7th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      Wicket schmitcket. Assange and Wikileaks has broken no laws, and has hurt no one. If you choose to believe every lie your government feeds you then, by all means, avert your eyes from the truth. There are those of us, however, who believe we have the right to know and a say in what is being with our money and in our names. If Pfc Manning is the one who supplied these documents he is a hero, hardly a cretin. Do you also consider Daniel Ellsburg a cretin? If you’re really looking for cretins go to Washington, DC where the cretinous masses who justify and support torture, murder, mass destruction, and life imprisonment for their enemies without any sort of due process, are falling all over themselves to demand the death of a person who lifted the curtain of secrecy from this abomination.
      It’s sad and so very revealing when the defense you can offer is to compare what’s being done here to Assange with a regime that has a long and bloody history of repressive authoritarianism.

  • | 418#
    Dec 7th, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Another Western hypocrisy. It seems the First Amendment now only protects speech with which the government agrees, the same propaganda that the mainstream media, those who are supposed to act as a watch dog, disseminates on a daily basis. Democracy demands and presupposes a well informed citizenry, otherwise how are the people supposed to come to informed decisions about who it is they want as leaders? With the traditional media in the pocket of the government the internet is all that is left. The ttrue heroes are Assage, manning and their supporters.

    • | 419#
      Dec 7th, 2010 at 9:58 am

      Well said. I agree.

    • | 421#
      Dec 7th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      Dude, you nailed it.

    • | 423#
      Dec 7th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      I agree with John however I take issue with one point he makes.

      “Democracy demands and presupposes a well informed citizenry, otherwise how are the people supposed to come to informed decisions about who it is they want as leaders?”

      The issue I have is with the use of the word leaders. No one, I repeat, no one, who holds a civil servant job is my leader. These people in Washington, just like the folks who work for the city, county and state are OUR employees not leaders. They may serve as our voice on a national or international stage but they do not lead us.

  • | 454#
    Dec 8th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    i never imagined anonymous would get involved….lets see how this turns out.

  • | 465#
    Dec 8th, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    we do not forgive
    we do not forget
    we are anonymous
    we are legion
    expect us

  • | 466#
    Dec 8th, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    I agree with the Anonymous hackers!Keep going guys.We can’t let the american government and secret services bully everyone else!

  • | 488#
    Dec 10th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Anonynmous has ignorant views. For one Copyrights are their to protect the people that make their living producing intellectual property. That is their lively hood. Second, Assange would technically be guilty as well. The consistent threats to release the cables if he is prosecuted and the fact that he has these cables in his position would make him guilty of Extortion and espionage at the very least. Anonymous is foolish to think they can defeat large corporations such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and Amazon. These companies have people far smarter than them and the financial resources to defend their absolute critical infrastructure. Anonymous had a victory, they took down PayPals blog woooo whooooo. They took down an extremely soft target. As a member of the cyber security community I enjoy watching these types of things. WikiLeaks will falter. It is only a matter of time. They will never win against these odds. This is my opinion based on first hand experience.

  • | 489#
    Dec 10th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    As a personal side note. I will continue my efforts to attack piracy websites and help deal with people like those involved with Anonymous.

  • | 519#
    Dec 14th, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    @DarkHorse, you are relay an HORSE.
    Small stupid “company guy”.
    And , this is my opinion based on first hand experience.

  • | 765#
    Jul 21st, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Fourteen individuals were arrested by the F.B.I. Tues for suspicion of preparing a cyber-attack against eBay’s PayPal website. All those indicted are speculated to be members of Anonymous, a loose-knit organization of cyber hackers with a political agenda. Cyber-crime is apparently on the rise this week. Here is the proof: 14 arrested for planned PayPal cyber-attack

  • Jan 20th, 2012 at 2:11 am

    take a look at what juicy info someone has leaked over the net about these idiots that are to protect our internet good luck they cant protect themselves

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