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Operation: Payback claims to have shut down Visa website in defense of WikiLeaks [Updated]

December 8, 2010 |  2:07 pm

Visa

Operation: Payback may have been a success.

At about 1 p.m. Visa.com was unreachable. Users trying to access the website were informed by their browsers that it was unavailable or could not be found, or they timed out.

At about the same time, a group of hackers going by the name Anonymous said on Twitter that the shut down was the result of its Operation: Payback campaign, retaliating agianst credit card companies in the name of WikiLeaks.

Its tweet read:

TARGET: WWW.VISA.COM :: FIRE FIRE FIRE!!! WEAPONS http://bit.ly/e6iR3X ::: SET YOUR LOIC TO irc.anonops.net ::: #DDOS #PAYBACK #WIKILEAKS

And shortly thereafter, another tweet:

The group also took credit for crashing MasterCard's website with an earlier distributed denial of service attack, a tactic hackers use to overload a company's servers with requests for information from its website. 

Visadown A public relations firm representing Visa said the company was looking into it but did not yet have a comment. Officials at MasterCard were unavilable for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Both Visa and MasterCard were apparently struck, by Anonymous and possibly others, because they stopped doing business with WikiLeaks after the website began releasing secret U.S. diplomatic documents on its website.

The release of the U.S. diplomatic cables has resulted in political problems and embarrassment for world leaders and a backlash from some companies that had done business with the controversial site.

[Updated 2:27 p.m.: Visa spokesman Ted Carr e-mailed the Times this statement: "Visa’s processing network, which handles cardholder transactions, is functioning normally and cardholders can continue to use their cards as they routinely would. Account data is not at risk.

"Separately, Visa’s corporate website –- Visa.com -– is currently experiencing heavier than normal traffic. The company is taking steps to restore the site to full operations within the next few hours."]

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles and David Sarno

twitter.com/nateog

Images: (top) A screenshot of Anonomyous hacker-activists as they aim their cyber attack at Visa.com and (bottom) a screenshot of Visa.com being unavailable to a user

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