Visa hit by web protest

Marion Dakers
SUPPORTERS of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks brought down several payment processing websites yesterday and threatened to attack other financial services.

Visa’s website was suspended and Mastercard’s online services were malfunctioning yesterday after activist group Anonymous attacked the websites as revenge for the companies blocking Wikileaks transactions earlier in the week.

Mastercard said yesterday: “Our core processing capabilities have not been compromised and cardholder account data has not been placed at risk. While we have seen limited interruption in some web-based services, cardholders can continue to use their cards for secure transactions globally.”

Visa said its homepage was “experiencing heavier than normal traffic”.

A group called Anonymous, which coordinated the attacks via Twitter with the message “FIRE FIRE FIRE”, has since seen its own website and Twitter account disabled.

The group released a statement claiming it overwhelmed the financial websites’ servers with fake visits.

It named Amazon, Paypal and EveryDNS as other targets for attacks, after they prevented Wikileaks from using services.

Meanwhile, IT company Datacell threatened Visa and Mastercard with legal action yesterday, claiming the firms’ stance on Wikileaks was damaging its business.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is set to remain in UK police custody until a court hearing on 14 December, after he was detained on Tuesday under a Swedish arrest warrant for alleged sexual offences.

The Wikileaks webpage was not functioning last night, though the 250,000 leaked diplomatic papers remained available on mirror sites.