Following MasterCard‘s controversial decision to pull the plug on WikiLeaks‘ funding over alleged illegal activity, despite the fact that WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange have yet to be found guilty of any crime, some Internet vigilantes affiliated with Anonymous have taken matters into their own hands, bringing down MasterCard.com with a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
On Twitter, Anonymous’ Operation Payback claimed responsibility for the attacks:
In the past, Operation Payback has been involved in attacks against the recording industry, the MPAA, and musician Gene Simmons over their stances on copyright law and punishment for file-sharers. Since WikiLeaks’ and Assange’s accounts were frozen by several financial institutions, Operation Payback has attacked the sites of PayPal’s blog and the Swiss bank PostFinance.
The takedown of MasterCard.com does not mean that MasterCard transactions have ceased, so the attacks are arguably symbolic: However, this does disrupt customers’ ability to check account information and locate MasterCard-friendly ATMs, among other services.
According to Panda Labs, which has been closely monitoring the Operation Payback DDoSes, as of 5:18am, “Mastercard.com is still down with 940 computers in the voluntary botnet attacking the site all at once. We have 3 hours 57 minutes of recorded downtime so far.”