Internet hacktivists have claimed
to have brought down the Mastercard website as revenge for the firm withdrawing
services to Wikileaks.
The Anonymous group of hackers have
also brought down the website of the Swedish prosecutors office which is
pursuing founder Julian Assange.
It has pledged to launch hits on
websites it sees as anti-Wikileaks.
Earlier Anonymous hit the Swiss
bank that froze Mr Assange’s assets.
PayPal, which has stopped
processing donations to Wikileaks, has also been targeted.
Anonymous is a loose-knit group of
hacktivists, with links to the notorious message board 4chan.
“We are glad to tell you that
Mastercard is down and it’s confirmed,” the group tweeted.
However, Mastercard said the site was
“MasterCard is experiencing
heavy traffic on its external corporate website – MasterCard.com – but this
remains accessible,” said Doyel Maitra of the firm.
“We are working to restore
normal speed of service. There is no impact whatsoever on MasterCard or Maestro
cardholders’ ability to use their cards for secure transactions.”
Security experts have said the site
has been under a so-called distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS), which
swamp a site with so many page requests that it becomes overwhelmed and drops
Access to the website appears to be
possible intermittently and it is still visible from some countries.
The attacks are part of an ongoing
infowar involving Wikileaks.
The whistle-blowing site has also
been hit by a series of DDoS attacks, following the release of a quarter of a
million US embassy cables.
It is unclear who is behind the
attacks but it seems that Wikileaks is getting too hot to handle as many of the
businesses that work with the site, distance themselves from it.
On 3 December, domain name provider
EveryDNS cut off service, citing the denial-of-service attacks as the reason.
Amazon also ended an agreement to
host the site, saying Wikileaks failed to adhere to its terms of service.
Online payment company, PayPal, has
permanently restricted Wikileaks’ account, making it harder for supporters to
The Swiss bank, PostFinance has
also closed the account of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
In most cases, the companies
originally insisted their decisions were not politically motivated.
But PayPal has since admitted that
it stopped payments following a request from the US government.