A group that is using the name “Anonymous” is using a voluntary botnet in order to take down websites that interfere with the operations of Wikileaks. The group has taken responsibility for a denial-of-service attack on Visa on Wednesday and an attack on competitor MasterCard earlier in the week.
The two credit card firms had suspended Wikileaks’ account, as did PayPal over the weekend. That company was also the victim of a DDoS attack, which Anoymous has also taken responsibility for. The creation of this botnet could be seen as the first salvo in what is sure to be an increasingly vicious war between the site’s supporters and those looking to shut the site down.
Supporters say that the attacks are their only means of fighting back against the organization’s detractors in order to keep Wikileaks online. “Everyone is aware that they are illegal but they feel that it is a worthy cause and the possible outcome outweighs the risk,” Anonymous member Coldblood told the BBC.
Facebook and Twitter are also distancing themselves from the campaign, which the group is calling “Operation Payback.” Both sites are claiming Anonymous’ use of the social networking sites to promote their work violates its terms of service.
One site that seems to have escaped the group’s wrath is Amazon. The company had shut off Wikileaks’ use of its web services architecture last week. As of press time, the site appeared to still be functioning normally.
Participants in the botnet are using an application called Low Orbit Ion Cannon that uses IRC to connect to a central chat room where instructions await on which target to attack. Experts are warning those considering joining this botnet to think twice as it may pose a security risk.