Late Monday evening Swiss time, a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack by hackers took down the website of PostFinance, the Swiss bank that froze the assets of the Julian Assange Defense Fund, according to a post by Executive Producer Mary Slosson on USC’s Anneberg School for Communications & Journalism.
The downing of the website, www.postfinance.ch, was announced on the anonymous hackers’ Twitter account about 1pm Pacific Time,which is 9pm in Switzerland. The tactics are similar to those use against Wikileaks, as reported on the Wikileaks’ Twitter account November 30th.
The pro-Wikileaks hackers, operating under the name Anon_Operations, directed visitors from its Twitter Account to its website at www.anonops.net, headlined “Operation Payback.” Slosson’s post reported earlier this afternoon, Los Angeles time, that the AnonOps.net site itself had been the victim of a DDOS, but it’s back up as of this writing (about 5:30pm Monday December 6).
PostFinance froze the assets of the Julia Assange Defense Fund in the wake of Wikileaks’ release of U.S. Embassy cables, alleging inaccurate address information used when opening the account. Assange allegedly put down the Geneva address of his lawyer instead of his own.
An apparently related group of hackers shut down Paypal earlier today (Monday, December 6) after Paypal stopped processing donations to the fund.
According to Slosson’s post:
Anonymous has stated that, among other things, they intend to “offer Wikileaks an additional mirror and have it Googlebombed” and “create counter-propaganda, organized attacks (DDoS) on various targets related to censorship.”
They call their work “Operation Avenge Assange,” and claim that the “future of the Internet is in balance.”
Leading digital civil liberty groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have defended Wikileaks as well, and criticized entities like Amazon and PayPal for withdrawing services like website hosting and payment processing in the wake of the Cablegate leak.
Incidentally, lest you think we’re talking about China, .ch is the top-level domain for Switzerland; it comes from Confederation Helvetia, the original name for the entity that became the Swiss nation. Assange has been seeking political asylum in Switzerland.