Visa and Mastercard Websites Taken Down By Hackers


Visa and Mastercard are just two of the world’s famous payments technology companies. They facilitate electronic fund transfers throughout the world by branding several credit cards. Just recently, both of their official websites were attacked by hackers.

There has been a report called to BBC that a payment firm which is linked to Mastercard that its customers has experienced “a complete loss of service”. Morever, the Mastercard’s SecureCode had been disrupted. Mastercard has acknowledged the problem and confirmed that they are indeed having “a service disruption” involving its SecureCode.

“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,” according to Mastercard.

Visa’s website also experienced the same case but was later on restored according to spokesman Ted Carr. He further said that its processing network, which handles cardholder transactions, was working normally.

There has been a twitter account known as Operation Payback which has been tweeting that Visa was taken down. This account was immediately suspended by Twitter afterwards. The social networking site declined to comment of the suspension though but there has been a report that the last tweet of the account has included link to a file containing consumer credit card information.

These things happened after both of them withdrew their service to the controversial website Wikileaks. This group of hackers which has been called Anonymous has claimed to be targeting all the groups which have left Wikileaks lately. They would include those prosecutors who are acting in a legal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Several attacks has been claimed including the Swiss bank, PostFinance, which closed the account of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In short, they would be attacking anyone with “an anti-Wikileaks agenda”.

A member of Anonymous having the codename Coldblood said that websites that are bowing down to government pressure have become their targets. It further stated that the idea is not to wipe them off but to give the companies a wake-up call. It has acknowledged the attacks and further said that they may hurt people trying to get to these sites. However, it is “the only effective way to tell these companies that us, the people, are displeased”.

Paypal Pulled Itself from Wikileaks

The withdrawal of services from Wikileaks continues and seemed to be unstoppable these past few days. The latest among them is the withdrawal of the online payment provider Paypal. It said that the website has violated one of its online policies “which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.”

A tweet from Wikileaks has confirmed such action: “PayPal bans WikiLeaks after U.S. government pressure.” The website has released a news set of US diplomatic cables this week which has embarrassed Washington and foreign leaders. They strongly believed that these withdrawal of services is a form if attack done by the US government to them and they are doing it by putting pressure on these companies to withdraw their services from them. Wikileaks has been using Paypal to receive donation from their supporters in the safest way possible. Now it is already gone, donations can be sent to them through mail in an Australian post office box, through bank transfers to accounts in Switzerland, Germany or Iceland, as well as through one “credit card processing partner” in Switzerland.

Before Paypal, wikileaks.org’s domain provider EveryDNS also pulled out their services from them because they said that the site hoards numerous hacks that would eventually alter their overall system. That’s why the domain wikileaks.org is no longer available now. It has transfered from one website to another and found its new home in wikileaks.ch. It is a Swiss based domain.

Wikileaks.org Dropped By EveryDNS

The American domain name provider EveryDNS has withdrawn its services to the the controversial Wikileaks. They were forced to switch to a Swiss domain name Wikileaks.ch from Wikileaks.org. The action took place late Thursday for the reason that the new hacker attacks threatened the rest of its network.

In a statement from EveryDNS, they said that “Wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure.”

Wikileaks has posted a tweet confirming the move saying “WikiLeaks.org domain killed by US everydns.net after claimed mass attacks.” On a separate tweet, Dynamic Network Services Inc., the owner of EveryDNS also posted the following, “trust is paramount: Our users and customers are our most important asset.” It didn’t specify though that it is referring to Wikileaks.

The said action was done by EveryDNS on the grounds of violating the provision stating that a member should “not interfere with another member’s use and enjoyment of the service.”

Wikileaks has been famous to have spilled and would be spilling thousands of embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables as well as classified U.S. military documents. The source of these documents has remained unclear. This has angered the US and other governments. These controversial diplomatic documents were mostly about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently, the US got Bradley Manning as their prime suspect of leaking the mentioned documents to Wikileaks.

Similarly, Amazon.com also evicted Wikileaks last Wednesday after it had provided the site with its servers to distribute embarrassing classifieds. Their action was praised by Sen. Joe Lieberman and said it should “set the standard” for companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute “illegally seized material”.

Such cut of services done by a domain provider is very rare. According to Andre Rickardsson, an expert on file-sharing and information technology security at Sweden’s Bitsec Consulting, domain name providers normally don’t drop their clients unless the clients themselves have breached their user contract. He also added the following statement, “WikiLeaks is not behind the disturbance here, but individuals trying to disturb WikiLeaks’ operations.”

Rickardsson believed that EveryDNS is just under pressure to do such act. Mark Stephens, the London-based lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, is also thinking the same thing. “Pressure appears to have been applied to close the WikiLeaks domain name,” he wrote on the micro-blogging website.

Arrest in Absence order issued against Assange

WikiLeaks director Julian Assange is in hot water as Sweden’s director of public prosecution has issued an arrest order on Thursday against the 38 year old writer, publisher, and internet activist. The order came after a series of charges– sususpected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force– were filed against him.

According to Marianne Ny, Assange faces five counts or criminal charges that occurred in two separate incidents: One count of rape and one count of sexual molestation related to an incident in Enkoping, about 78 km west of Stockholm, on August 17. His third and fourth counts of sexual molestation is related  to the August 13 and 18 incident in Stockholm. And the last count, illegal use of force, was charged in connection to the August 13 and 14 incident that took place in the capital.

If convicted, Assange could be sentenced to at least two years in prison, according to a court document filed by Ny. “The background is that he has to be heard in this investigation and we haven’t been able to get a hold of him to question him,” She told CNN in a statement.

This is the first time officials have included probable cause in their order. The  court has upgraded the molestation charge to sexual molestation.

The order, asking the Stockholm Criminal Court to arrest in Absence, means any Swedish officials who comes across WikiLeaks’ spokesperson and editor-in-chief must detain him. The court decision came out Thursday afternoon at 2p.m. but Assenge was nowhere to be found on the same day.

Ny believes that a crime had been committed but needs more investigation to build up the case before she could lay her decision on the table. Meanwhile, Swedish authorities announced earlier that they were looking into the case of Assenge involving  two separate cases of rape and molestation.

Assange, on the other hand, had consistently denied any wrongdoings and maintained his innocence, dismissing the accusations as “smear campaign” during an interview with the  Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera. While being pressed for answers by CNN’s Atika Shubert, Assange repeatedly declined to answer questions about the rape and molestation investigation. “This interview is about something else. I will have to walk if you are … if you are going to contaminate this extremely serious interview with questions about my personal life,” he said. Moments later, he walked off the set.

Julian Paul Assange, born on Townsville, Queensland Australia, was a former journalist and computer programmer. He is best known for his contribution to the WikiLeaks, an international whistleblower website that publishes confidential and “unavailable” documents from anonymous sources and leaks.

Assange is usually described as the director and founder of the site but he disproves the title, saying  “I don’t call myself a founder,” and describe himself as the editor in chief of  WikiLeaks instead.

WikiLeaks gained media attention when in April 2010, the site posted a video in  which Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. forces. Then in subsequent months, it released the “Afghan War Diary”, a compilation of more than 76,900 undisclosed documents about the War in Afghanistan.

Pentagon Downplays WikiLeaks Information

U.S. officials are downplaying the disclosure of thousands of reports by whistleblower WikiLeaks.org. While these come off as the biggest leak on a U.S. led military operation since the 

U.S. officials are downplaying the disclosure of thousands of reports by whistleblower WikiLeaks.org. While these come off as the biggest leak on a U.S. led military operation since the Vietnam War, top military officers claim that reports and documents from WikiLeaks are at “secret-level” and are not at highly classified information.

U.S. President Barack Obama earlier today expressed concern over the exposure of delicate information although he said that the documents did not disclose new information on the operations in Afghanistan. 

Admiral Michael Mullen, a top-rank military officer, even expressed doubts about the relevance of the information going forward as these were focused on past events, dating from 2004 to 2009. Mullen says that their focus today is the future as so many things have changed since 2009.

John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has cautioned against excessive excitement over these leaks. “I think it’s important not to overhype or get excited about the meaning of these documents.”, Senator Kerry said.

Investigations are going on to identify the source of the leaks, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

At the other end of the spectrum, WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange claims that the website is not anti-war as it was perceived to be. According to Assange, “”WikiLeaks does not have an opinion whether the war in Afghanistan should continue or not continue. … It should continue in a just way if it’s to continue at all.”

WikiLeaks: How It Works

There is so much talk about the WikiLeaks reports published about the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan. You will find nothing fancy about its webpage. However, WikiLeaks would come off as a strategic platform for exposing sensitive information that not all people have access to. These are deemed classified information that is somehow humanized by WikiLeaks.

How exactly does WikiLeaks work?

Similar to other “wikis”, information is sent to the site electronically or by snail mail. Unlike Wikipedia, information is not published on WIkiLeaks immediately. Volunteer editors sift through these submissions to determine what can be published based on facts, relevance and importance of these information. Anyone can actually submit classified documents and information to WikiLeaks but only approved submissions are published. To a certain extent, contributors are protected from a legal and security standpoint since their identities are not made public.

 Tracking down this controversial news organization may be very challenging. For one, their servers are scattered around countries that provide some extent of legal protection. Tracing their origins would take a tremendous amount of effort since they have encrypted data.

“We use this state-of-the-art encryption to bounce stuff around the internet to hide trails — pass it through legal jurisdictions like Sweden and Belgium to enact those legal protections,” said Julian Assange, the site’s founder and editor.

The site has been facing technical issues lately with the sudden surge of its popularity. WikiLeaks will likely survive these technical problems just as they were able to execute an effective information strategy.

Wikileaks Afghanistan

It has always been interesting reading Wikileaks.  The website is known to expose classified secrets of the US military.  Just this morning, about 91,000 classified documents were published.

Most of these confidential matters aims to let go of the truth and expose what really happens in the US forces.  It is very quite controversial indeed as it tackles issues like how the US armed forces targets militants without trial, anger over Pakistani intelligence, accidental killings, unreported civilian killings and many others.  These reports are dated 2004 till 2009.  If you want to know more about Wikileaks and the latest issue with Afghanistan exposures, you may visit Wikileaks’ official website and read more

Wikileaks A Threat to National Security: US Says

Wikileaks is a formless, international organization, originally based in Sweden, that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of their sources. Just recently the site has published documents which include details of killings of Afghan civilians that were unfortunately not reported until now. The records also showed that Pakistan and Iran are helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has clearly denied the allegations. Its Ambassador in Washington, Husain Haqqani said that the “unprocessed” reports did “not reflect the current on ground realities”

“We have paid a price in treasure and in blood over the last two years. More Pakistanis have been killed by terrorists, including our military officers and intelligence service officials, we are not going to be distracted by something like this”, he added.

The report further suggest the following: (BBC News)

1. The Taliban has had access to portable heat-seeking missiles to shoot at aircraft.
2. A secret US unit of army and navy special forces has been engaged on missions to “capture of kill” top insurgents.
3. Many civilian casualties – caused by Taliban roadside bombs and Nato missions that went wrong – have gone unreported.

These leakage of information was given to major news media such as New York Times, the Guardian and the German news magazine, Der Spiegel.

Nato also did their investigation about the unreported Afghan civilian killings and was not able to find evidences. However, residents nearby that has been asked affirmed that they saw the incident and indeed civilians were killed.

From a statement, US National Security Adviser General James Jones said that these classified information that has been
released by Wikileaks “could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk”. US has labeled it as an “irresponsible” leak and could threaten national security. All these things came out in during 2004 to 2009, before President Obama “announced a new strategy with a substantial increase in resources for Afghanistan”.

Nobody still know who’s lying or not. One thing should be sure as of this moment, peace should prevail in this world and she should stick in solving it.