Less than an hour ago, the Twitter account @Op_Payback (Operation Payback) tweeted its intention to take down Amazon.com with its LOIC application, the software designed to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, as directed by the group of hackers known only as Anonymous. The group's Operation Payback campaign has already hit websites like MasterCard and Visa in recent days, successfully taking the sites offline for hours.
Ironically, this time Operation Payback's target, Amazon, is also an unwitting host to the WikiLeaks cables themselves, the documents whose reveal and subsequent opposition has led to a full-on cyberwar. It appears someone has uploaded the cables to the Kindle e-bookstore and is making them available for sale on Amazon's U.K. site, Amazon.co.uk.
As first reported by the blog site The Next Web, the cables were spotted here on Amazon, where they only have a one star and a half (out of five) review. Amazon users are leaving angry comments directed at the seller for selling documents that are supposed to be free, but they're also using the platform to complain about Amazon's recent decision to stop hosting WikiLeaks' main site.
WikiLeaks had moved to Amazon Web Services after its own site was attacked, also by an army of bots in a DDoS-style attack, which prompted it to move to another Web host. WikiLeaks chose Amazon.com's Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) service because it is less vulnerable to these sorts of attacks, but was booted out only days later.
Last Thursday, Amazon released a statement saying that its decision to stop hosting the WikiLeaks website was due to WikiLeaks' violation of its Terms of Service agreement and that the content was endangering people's lives. But to WikiLeaks supporters, these sorts of claims (see also: PayPal, Visa, MasterCard) are being used as easy outs for companies that don't want to deal with the drama, danger and potential legal troubles supporting WikiLeaks brings to their doorstep.
In Amazon's case, it's not clear if a host could be tried under the Espionage Act, for example. A spokesperson for WikiLeaks says the organization's actions are completely legal, of course, but some notable legal pundits, like attorney Floyd Abram, who represented The New York Times against the federal government in 1971's Pentagon Papers case, feels otherwise. Abram said that WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange may be in "possible violation of the espionage act."
In any event, Amazon's decision to dump WikiLeaks from its Web hosting service is now going to bring it a bit of the trouble it had hoped to avoid. At 9 a.m. Eastern, @op_payback tweeted the attack will start in two hours.