Operation Payback Targets Amazon, PayPal Under Fire

The latest shot across the bow of the information wars targets PayPal, Amazon. The attack is to commence in 30 minutes. Synchronize your watches, and get some popcorn.

Operation Payback Targets Amazon, PayPal Under Fire

Hacker organization Operation Payback is back up and operational on Twitter after having its original Twitter user page shut down last night, and has just reported that it will commence attack on Amazon.com at 1pm EST.

The affiliation, which attacks and shuts down the websites of corporate and governmental entities that have sought to destroy WikiLeaks, pledges to attack “major anti-piracy & anti-freedom entities.”

Amazon and PayPal are among the companies that have refused service to WikiLeaks, caving to pressure from the State Department. MasterCard and Visa both had their sites disabled yesterday, and Amazon and PayPal are both on the target list for today.

The internet was always supposed to be a revolution. For once, the medium seems to be making good on the promise. For all the supposed personal empowerment afforded individuals by the access to information and the social network profile pages that facilitate interpersonal communication, the internet is dominated, by and large, by huge corporations. Users sign terms-of-service agreements in exchange for Facebook page or Twitter accounts, and when one of these multi-billion dollar companies disapproves of the actions of such a user, they simply suspend or disable the user’s page. Both Facebook and Twitter have tried to ban Operation Payback in their networks in the last 24 hours.

But for perhaps the first time, a collection of individuals is outwitting the will of the corporations online. Within minutes of Twitter suspending Operation Payback’s initial handle @Op_Anonymous, users flooded the service with offers to hand over similar Twitter handles to the group via private messages. Within minutes the group was back online at @OperationAnonymous, @AnonOpsNet, and eventually @Op_Payback. Twitter seems to have realized that trying to shut the group out of its network will result in an endless game of internet whack-a-mole, and the new Twitter page is being allowed to stay live, telegraphing instructions about how to join the information wars.

The group is harnessing the power of an app called LOIC, which effectively creates a hive of dummy traffic constructed of a web of interrelated internet connections at individual computers, launches all the traffic at one target, and disables the target by overwhelming its servers (known as a Denial of Service attack). The thing that makes the attack truly dangerous is that it’s entirely decentralized. It’s comprised of an organization of participants unknown even to each other, whose only common thread is anger at what they believe is the tyrannical censorship of free speech, manifest in the worldwide attack on WikiLeaks and the international effort to persecute its wayward leader, Julian Assange.

It may not be the utopian vision its early inventors imagined, but the internet is finally, officially, a revolution. If enough users band together in the pursuit of DoS attacks, it could the 21st century equivalent of the French Revolution. Vive la Internet!