Anonymous, the group of vigilante hackers launching cyberattacks against groups who have hindered the Wikileaks website, have already succeeded in slowing or downing a number of major websites. Now, their attacks have focused in on two of their long-term targets: Amazon, who shut down Wikileaks hosting, and PayPal, who stopped allowing the whistle-blowing website to receive donations through their service.
As reported by Computer World, starting at about 8am, Pacific Time, on December 9th, Anonymous launched a denial-of-service attack against Amazon.com in an attempt to break the site, at least temporarily. Their retaliation may have been prompted by two things: Amazon had denied Wikileaks hosting, and (ironically) then released a Kindle version of the first 5,000 leaked documents without contributing to the site.
[Note, this could affect sites which host content with Amazon]
However, the DDoS virtual traffic that was intended to slow the site had little to no impact, prompting Anonymous to (as far as anyone can tell) abandon the effort. In Amazon’s case, their shield against the group was not any special security measures, but their extensive network infrastructure, which was designed to handle mass amounts of traffic.
Immediately, however, the group shifted its focus to PayPal, and specifically to the section of the site that handles web transactions. The main PayPal site was downed for about an hour, while the secure API went down for significantly longer. No statements have yet been made by PayPal indicating what damage, if any, has been caused to their secure processing.
Anonymous is both announcing and taking responsibility for these chats via Twitter accounts (which frequently get shut down and must be re-created) and IRC chat rooms. They were previously displaying information via their AnonOps.net website, but their ISP has now shut down the site. Despite pressures such as these, however, the scale and sophistication of the DDoS attacks are increasing.