Dubbed by one blogger as the “first world information war”, the recent and ever-growing concerted cyber attacks on some of the largest US companies and organisations has dominated headlines across the globe.
The efforts of 'Operation Payback' were originally directed at the American recording industry in an attempt to disrupt the prosecution of illegal music downloaders. Now, following the perceived denigration of free speech on the internet, this anonymous group of “hacktivists” - the portmanteau of preference throughout the media sphere – has directed its collective might toward those implicated in the proposed demise of the WikiLeaks site. They are the modern day wartime collaborators of the digital world.
The whistle-blowing hub has recently published over 250,000 diplomatic cables which have compromised key US relationships and embarrassed countless high profile individuals. The subsequent outrage of US authorities, and their determination toward the closure of the WikiLeaks domain, has resulted in the online onslaught of hackers everywhere.
Companies such as Amazon and e-Bay have fell foul to the counter-attacks mounted by the legions of computer hacking freedom fighters, for reasons relating to severance of ties between the companies themselves and the WikiLeaks website. Following the announcement of the closure of the account of Julian Assange, the founder and leader of the WikiLeaks cause, by Post Finance, the Swiss bank's online presence was virtually nullified by a stream of attacks within hours.
It appears that the faceless band of guerilla cyber soldiers are winning the war. Attempts to disable the WikiLeaks site have proved ineffective at best, at worst they have engendered a more stoic defence of the site by various sympathetic domains, including the French newspaper Liberation. Due to the rapid distribution and storage of the sensitive content throughout the web, the target of the authorities is further out of reach than ever before.