Cyberattacks persist as MasterCard slogs through WikiLeaks protest
Cyberattacks sent MasterCard's website into a tailspin. The page has been up-again, down-again as hackers stage a cyberattack protest in support of WikiLeaks.
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Undeterred, WikiLeaks released more confidential U.S. cables Wednesday. The latest batch showed the British government feared a furious Libyan reaction if the convicted Lockerbie bomber wasn't set free and expressed relief when they learned he would be released in 2009 on compassionate grounds.Skip to next paragraph
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Another U.S. memo described German leader Angela Merkel as the "Teflon" chancellor, but she brushed it off as mere chatter at a party. American officials were also shown to be lobbying the Russian government to amend a financial bill they felt would disadvantage U.S. companies Visa and MasterCard.
The most surprising cable of the day came from a U.S. diplomat in Saudi Arabia after a night on the town.
"The underground nightlife of Jiddah's elite youth is thriving and throbbing," the memo said. "The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available — alcohol, drugs, sex — but all behind closed doors."
The pro-WikiLeaks vengeance campaign on Wednesday appeared to be taking the form of denial-of-service attacks in which computers are harnessed — sometimes surreptitiously — to jam target sites with mountains of requests for data, knocking them out of commission.
Per Hellqvist, a security specialist with the firm Symantec, said a network of web activists called Anonymous — to which Operation Payback is affiliated — appeared to be behind many of the attacks. The group, which has previously focused on the Church of Scientology and the music industry, is knocking offline websites seen as hostile to WikiLeaks.
"While we don't have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same reasons," the group said in a statement. "We want transparency and we counter censorship ... we intend to utilize our resources to raise awareness, attack those against and support those who are helping lead our world to freedom and democracy."
The website for Swedish lawyer Claes Borgstrom, who represents the two women at the center of Assange's sex crimes case, was unreachable Wednesday.
The Swiss postal system's financial arm, Postfinance, which shut down Assange's bank account on Monday, was also having trouble. Spokesman Alex Josty said the website buckled under a barrage of traffic Tuesday.
"Yesterday it was very, very difficult, then things improved overnight," he told the AP. "But it's still not entirely back to normal."
Ironically, the microblogging site Twitter — home of much WikiLeaks support — could become the next target. Operation Payback posted a statement claiming "Twitter you're next for censoring Wikileaks discussion."
Some WikiLeaks supporters accuse Twitter of preventing the term "WikiLeaks" from appearing as one of its popular "trending topics." Twitter denies censorship, saying the topics are determined by an algorithm.