U.S. firms fend off cyberattacks

Dec. 11, 2010 at 9:27 AM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Cyber attackers brashly said they were aiming to disrupt, but not disable, U.S. company Web sites to protest recent treatment of Internet firm WikiLeaks.

"We do not want to steal your personal information or credit card numbers. We do not seek to attack critical infrastructure of companies such as MasterCard, Visa, PayPal or Amazon," said an online posting by a group called Anonymous, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

"Our current goal is to raise awareness about WikiLeaks and the underhanded methods employed by the above companies to impair WikiLeaks' ability to function," the posting said.

Attacks on Visa and MasterCard Inc. Web sites briefly knocked them off line this week. PayPal was able to avoid an outage, but the firm's technical staff went into "red alert status," after an online posting said, "PayPal is the enemy," the Journal said.

The cyber-assaults have mostly been relatively unsophisticated "distributed denial of service" type attacks that have available counter-measures.

The attacks generally try to overwhelm a company's server, causing slowdowns or outages.

WikiLeaks released thousands of diplomatic cables to the public recently, causing several U.S. companies to distance themselves from the whistle-blower Web site. Some firms disabled or removed links from their Web sites that made it possible for users to donate to WikiLeaks.

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