Twitter Locks Out Wikileaks DDoS Group As Attacks Spread

Type threatpost
Reporter Paul Roberts
Modified 2013-04-17T16:35:33


Suspended TwitterTwitter has suspended the account used by Anonymous, an umbrella group of online hacker-activists that have claimed responsibility for denial of service (DoS) attacks on Visa, MasterCard, Paypal and a host of other public and private entities who have taken action against Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

Efforts to view the account, Anon_Operation, produce a Twitter notification that the account has been suspended. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Threatpost. However, the action drew cries of censorship from across the popular social network.

“Freedom of expression is priceless. For everything else, there’s MasterCard” read a popular message that was copied, or re-tweeted, by many users. The message is a reference to MasterCard’s decision to stop processing donations to Wikileaks – a decision that made the Web site of that credit card company the target of crippling Internet attacks starting on Tuesday. Anonymous claimed responsibility for those attacks – part of a larger and ongoing campaign it calls “Operation Payback,” and that has targeted individuals and organizations, including the RIAA and MPAA, that Anonymous considers hostile to its libertarian agenda.

The group has called for volunteers to help it attack a growing list of targets in recent days, as it lined up to support Wikileaks out of solidarity with the group’s aims. After initially proposing attacks on payment processor PayPal, Anonymous has targeted MasterCard and Visa, which also suspended payments to Wikileaks, as well as, which denied the group the use of its Amazon Web Services infrastructure. PostFinance, a bank that shuttered accounts belonging to Assange, and the Swedish Prosecution Authority pursuing charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange found their online properties under attack. Even Panda Security’s blog, which has covered the ongoing saga, appears to have been knocked offline intermittently, though we have not confirmed that the Website is under attack.

Anonymous has also issued threats against Twitter itself, which it charged with filtering discussion about Wikileaks on its social network – a charge Twitter has strenuously denied.

While Anonymous has lost the use of its Twitter account, the group still is leveraging the network in its attacks. According to an analysis by SANS, a software tool used called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon is leveraging Twitter’s API and infrastructure to allow rank and file supporters of Anonymous to participate in denial of service attacks against Web sites the group has targeted.