opposed the group's actions - by attacking their public-facing Web infrastructure. Using a software program called LOIC, which automates DDoS attacks (a type of Web-based attack that can take sites offline), the supporters targeted high-profile websites like Visa and MasterCard, taking them offline briefly during the first stages of what later became a full-on cyberwar. More recently, and with less success, the attackers went after PayPal and Amazon, too.The vigilante-style statement of dissent? called Operation Payback is coming to an end. Loosely organized by anonymous supporters of Wikileaks, the aim of Operation Payback was to target companies and organizations that dropped support for Wikileaks - or even
As those attacks fizzled out, the group is changing direction. Instead of using their collective energy to attack Wikileaks' opponents, it will now focus on spreading the information contained in the Wikileaks documents themselves.
Due to its loose and decentralized nature, later attacks organized by the hacker group known as Anonymous appeared to have failed. PayPal updated its company blog yesterday to note that all PayPal sites are, and have remained, "fully operational."
"You may have read that PayPal is one of the sites that has been targeted by supporters of WikiLeaks, who want to bring our site down because they disagree with our business decision to stop working with WikiLeaks," read the blog post. "I want to let you know that all PayPal sites are fully operational. Any reports to the contrary are simply untrue. We can confirm that there have been multiple attempted distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on www.paypal.com this week. In addition, our API site api.paypal.com was targeted today. The attacks were not successful."
At worst, the attacks have caused "slightly slower load times," said PayPal, but "have not significantly impacted payments."
Attacks Were "Symbolic" Says Anonymous
Meanwhile, according to a press release from the Anonymous group itself (yes, the group that claims it's not even a group, but "an Internet gathering" puts out press releases), Anonymous says that parts of its organization attempted an attack on Internet retailer Amazon, but this attack never occurred.
It's possible that Anonymous may not have been able to take Amazon.com down, admits the group in the press release. However, Anoymous also seems to be having a change of heart about the attacks themselves, claiming that attacking a major retailer "when people are buying presents for their loved ones would be in bad taste."
Operation LeakSpin Details
In any event, it appears that Anonymous has new plans now. A image posted online on the 4chan image board announces a new operation: Operation LeakSpin. This new mission aims to organize the members to find the "best, least exposed" leaks in Wikileaks and post them online for all to see, even using deceptive tactics if need be, like tagging them with keywords like "tea party" or "Bieber" or posting them in comment forms or fan forums.
"They don't fear the LOIC, they fear exposure," the message reads.
While the Web attacks and resulting "cyberwar" have been interesting to watch, their impact was less of a disruption of critical infrastructure and more of a statement of dissent, a symbolic action. And that's exactly what was intended, says the press release writer(s?), with notable spin. The goal was to raise awareness, it said, and that has been achieved.