Amazon, PayPal fend off hacker attacks over WikiLeaks

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Richard Falkenrath, a principal at the Chertoff Group and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor, discusses decisions by corporations, like MasterCard Inc. and Inc., to suspend use of their brands by WikiLeaks, which released thousands of secret U.S. military and State Department documents. Falkenrath speaks with Erik Schatzker on Bloomberg Television's "InsideTrack." (Source: Bloomberg)
By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 8:30 PM

Internet giants Amazon and PayPal fended off multiple online attacks yesterday by sympathizers of the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks. The online retailer and the payment service, both of which appeared to function smoothly yesterday, incurred the wrath of hackers who all week have been launching retaliatory attacks against them because they had severed business ties with WikiLeaks.

A spokesperson for PayPal said yesterday that the company had beefed up its security in response to calls online to bring the site down. Hackers - who consider themselves free speech advocates - were upset because PayPal announced it would no longer process donations made to WikiLeaks, which has been releasing thousands of classified government documents that have embarrassed the United States.

"We're actively reinforcing our security measures and we continue to be highly vigilant for future attacks," said Anuj Nayar, a PayPal spokesman. "It has been very busy over here during the last week. We're always staffed 24-7, but we have been increasing the manpower . . . to monitor the attacks and devise countermeasures."

An Amazon spokesman, Craig Berman, declined to comment. Amazon angered WikiLeaks sympathizers when it canceled Web hosting for the site, which swiftly moved to find other providers.

On Twitter, one group of protesters that calls itself Anonymous galvanized supporters by urging them to flood Amazon's and PayPal's Web sites and shut them down. Its campaign, Operation Payback, posted tweets such as "TARGET: WWW.AMAZON.COM LOCKED ON!!! . . . " along with instructions on how to log on to a Web site and launch an attack.

The hacker war follows another fight waged this week against MasterCard and Visa, which stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks. Yesterday, Dutch authorities arrested a 16-year-old who allegedly admitted to participating in the attacks against the credit card companies, according to news reports.

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