Wikileaks Cyber Attacks Like 'Nuclear Weapon'


Internet activists have defied efforts to end their online assaults on companies seen as enemies of WikiLeaks. Skip

The loosely organized campaign to avenge WikiLeaks against those who have obstructed its operations, calling itself Operation Payback, has already temporarily brought down the websites of credit-card giants Visa and MasterCard, and of the Swedish government.

A succession of US institutions have withdrawn services from WikiLeaks after the website published thousands of embarrassing secret US diplomatic reports that have caused strains between Washington and several allies.

On Thursday WikiLeaks activists instructed their followers to mount a distributed denial of service attack on PayPal and Amazon.

Online retail powerhouse Amazon last week stopped hosting WikiLeaks' website, and on Thursday it briefly became the main target of the pro-WikiLeaks campaigners - before they admitted it was too big for them.

Facebook said it had removed the activists' Operation Payback page on Thursday because it was promoting a distributed denial of service attack - a form of freezing websites by bombarding them with requests that is illegal in many countries.

The campaign also disappeared briefly from Twitter before reappearing in a different guise. Twitter declined to comment.

In an online letter, Anonymous, a loose-knit group of hackers who sympathise with WikiLeaks, said its activists were neither vigilantes nor terrorists. It added: "The goal is simple: Win the right to keep the Internet free of any control from any entity, corporation, or government."