WikiLeaks hackers threaten British Government

Julian Assange - WikiLeaks founder

An army of computer hackers is planning to bring down British government websites if Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is extradited to Sweden.

The 1,500-strong network of online activists has already sabotaged the websites of MasterCard, Visa and the Swedish government with millions of bogus visits. The attacks, termed “Operation Payback”, came after the credit card companies and PayPal, an online payment firm, announced that they would no longer process donations to the anti-secrecy organisation.

The group of hackers, called Anonymous, said it would target British government websites if Mr Assange was extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted over allegations of sexual assault. Gregg Housh, an American internet activist who previously worked with the hackers, said: “They will go after the weakest links, because they want to see results. They will probably test a few sites and then decide.”

The hackers said they were planning to target Amazon, the online retailer. A message posted on their Twitter account yesterday stated: “Target: locked on!!!”. Mr Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s extradition squad earlier this week after Swedish prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant.

He is due to appear before City of Westminster magistrate’s court on Tuesday, where his lawyers will attempt to secure his release on bail.

He has been accused by two women of one count of rape, two of sexual molestation and one of unlawful coercion. He denies the allegations and says that the sex was consensual.

One of the hackers said: “It is definitely an information war. The core principle behind it is [that] information is free, governments keep information to themselves, WikiLeaks releases it to the general public and the war occurs.”

The hackers’ actions so far have been essentially attacks by volume, known as DDoS, or distributed denial of service, in which the target site is hit with increased numbers of visitors with the intention of exceeding its capabilities and forcing it to crash. In this case, hundreds of volunteers have downloaded something called a botnet, which aids the distribution of the command to attack the site. The volunteer hackers wait until they are given a signal on an internet chat room, before launching the attack. The attacks are illegal in Britain and carry a maximum sentence of two years.

A spokesman for PayPal insisted that, despite the attack, the site had not been disrupted. “As far as we are aware there hasn’t been any further impact on the site.”
Source: The Telegraph

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