Following the decision by Amazon not to host WikiLeaks anymore last week, PayPal has now permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of its acceptable use policy.
According to a statement by PayPal, its payment service ‘cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity'. It said that it has ‘notified the account holder of this action'.
However a new twist on this tale is that the Anonymous group is set to take a temporary break from their efforts against the entertainment industry in order to spend some time helping WikiLeaks. According to Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher and security evangelist at Panda Security, the first attack has been set on PayPal.
He said: “Shortly after the PayPal announcement, Anonymous decided that the PayPal Blog would be its first distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) target in WikiLeaks related counterattacks.”
A Twitter account, apparently related to the Anonymous group, boasted of taking down thepaypalblog.com and later encouraged followers to close their PayPal accounts ‘in light of the blatant misuse of power to partially disable WikiLeaks funding'. It also asked followers to ‘join in the DDoS if you'd like'.
Statistics from PandaLabs found that ThePayPalBlog.com was down as of 12pm on Saturday 4th December and after seven hours of constant attacks, the PayPal blog had either been deleted or permanently taken offline. Correll said that accessing the blog on Sunday morning revealed a 403/access forbidden error while at 10.50pm, the blog was reduced to a plain text statement regarding its decision to suspend WikiLeaks.
It was not until Sunday evening that ThePayPalBlog.com was back up, after 75 service interruptions and eight hours 15 minutes of total downtime. Correll also said that this does not take into account the many hours that ThePayPalBlog.com resolved to a 403 error.
The Anonymous group did publish a statement claiming that it supported WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he ‘deifies everything we hold dear' as ‘he despises and fights censorship constantly' and he is ‘the prime focus of a global manhunt, in both the physical and virtual realms'. It said: “Anonymous has a chance to kick back for Assange and fight the oppressive future which looms ahead. We have a chance to fight in the first infowar ever fought.”
It made seven points of action for its members and followers, including boycotting PayPal, spreading the leaked communication cables as much as possible and vote for Julian to be the Time magazine's 2010 person of the year. At the time of writing, Assange is currently leading the voting ahead of the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and singer Lady Gaga.
Update: WikiLeaks confirmed later that its accounts with the Swiss Bank Post Finance had been frozen after founder Julian Assange was labelled as a ‘high profile' individual.
It said that his defense fund and personal assets of just over £26,000 had been frozen under a technicality that Assange is a homeless refugee attempting to gain residency in Switzerland and had used his lawyers address in Geneva for the bank's correspondence.
A statement by WikiLeaks said that it and Assange had lost €100,000 in assets over the past week. It also said that it has public bank accounts in Iceland (preferred) and Germany and asked for supporting donations.