It looks like several companies are learning what happens when you mess with the internet – and they’re learning it the hard way. Several major companies have been hit by the collective powers of Anonymous after 4chan launched several distributed denial-of-service attacks. What many have been predicting for a long time now has finally happened: an actual war between the powers that be on one side, and the internet on the other. Update: PayPal has admitted their WikiLeaks snub came after pressure from the US government, and Datacell, which takes care of payments to Wikileaks, is threatening to sue MasterCard over Wikileaks’ account suspension. Update II: Visa.com is down due to the attack. Update III: PayPal has caved under the pressure, and will release the funds in the WikiLeaks account.
Over the past few days, several companies have blocked Wikileaks from using their services. Amazon was one of the first to do so, and while Twitter hides itself behind algorithms, it’s pretty clear they are trying to block WikiLeaks and Assange from becoming trending topics. They were joined by several other, more traditional companies the past few days.
Times are clearly a’changing, since Swiss bank PostFinance froze Julian Assange’s bank account, claiming Assange gave up false information regarding his place of residence. PayPal, too, cut off payments to WikiLeaks, citing a violation of use policy, and they were joined yesterday by MasterCard and Visa, who both also cited violation of the use policies. And I have a unicorn. While it’s impossible to prove anything, it’s hard to believe that governmental pressure has nothing to do with these moves.
Anonymous has started to fight back the best way it knows how: massive distributed denial-of-service attacks on PayPal, PostFinance, Visa, and MasterCard – and not without success. PostFinance and MasterCard have both been brought down to their knees, and while PayPal itself is still standing, the company’s blogs were taken down. They’re not just targeting commercial entities, though; the website of the Swedish prosecutors has been taken down as well.
After several first moves by the old world, 4chan’s coordinated attack is the first serious offensive blow from the internet in this war. Defensive moves were already made in the form of the creation of hundreds of Wikileaks mirrors all over the world, effectively making it impossible to take down the website. 4chan’s attacks, too, will be pretty much impossible to stop. If governments thought terrorism was hard to fight… Wait until they try to deal with the collective distributed strength of the web.
I fully support these DDoS attacks. Attacking WikiLeaks and its goals and values is pretty much an attack on everything the web stands for, and to me, these attacks feel like justice being served. There’s little else we can do, and these attacks are entirely harmless; no people are being harmed in the process – they’re just inconvenienced. I’m sure some starry-eyed believers in the system will argue that you should vote with your wallet, but while I find that attitude admirable and cute, it’s also naive.
If the old world plays dirty, so should we.