After word leaked out that PayPal had given the FBI a list of Anonymous suspects, the hacktivists turned the tables on the e-wallet company with a boycott.
The eBay subsidiary originally earned the ire of Anonymous at the end of last year when PayPal (along with major credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard) stopped processing transactions for WikiLeaks, the whistleblower document database. Anonymous struck back at the beginning of December with a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack -- codenamed Operation Payback -- that slowed PayPal servers and rendered some users unable to access their accounts temporarily.
As soon as the DDoS attacks began, PayPal started collecting IP address data on the company’s security system, and the FBI helped the company to identify those that were most likely to have come from the LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon, the network of computers that access and overwhelm the target servers with traffic).
As revealed on Tuesday in an FBI affidavit supporting one of the recent raids, PayPal provided the FBI with “approximately 1,000 IP addresses that sent malicious network packets to PayPal during the DDoS attacks,” states the affidavit, penned by FBI agent Chris Thompson. Delivered on a USB drive, these 1,000 were the most active, or the “IP addresses that sent the largest number of packets.”
When a Texas NBC affiliate posted the affidavit on Tuesday, Anonymous decided to launch another round of PayPal payback -- using nothing more digital (or legally questionable) than a plain old boycott.
Writing under their own name as well as the signatures of the associated and/or combined groups LulzSec and AntiSec, the hacktivists urged readers to punish PayPal for stifling what they and others consider a protest, a digital version of a march or sit-in. “Our most dangerous weapons is neither ddos nor hacks. It's angry citizens who feel naturally allied with us,” tweeted the group.
As with many of the recent AntiSec statements, there is more than a little of the declaration or manifesto to it. “Quite simply, we, the people, are disgusted with these injustices. We will not sit down and let ourselves be trampled upon by any corporation or government. We are not scared of you, and that is something for you to be scared of. We are not the terrorists here: you are.”
The heart of the statement, however, is the call to action. “We encourage anyone using PayPal to immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative,” the statement continued (and a selection of alternatives were indeed given over Twitter later on). “The first step to being truly free is not putting one's trust into a company that freezes accounts when it feels like, or when it is pressured by the U.S. government. PayPal's willingness to fold to legislation should be proof enough that they don't deserve the customers they get. They do not deserve your business, and they do not deserve your respect...spread the word.”
The urgings had a definite affect; by 1pm EDT, eBay’s share price had dropped drastically (although how much stems from the PayPal boycott has not been determined) and the Twitter account @AnonymousIRC triumphantly posted “Received some more information: At least 35.000 PayPal accounts have been closed today, likely much more to come. Proud of you!”
James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for IBG.com. With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at www.ibg.com. Page Rage provides free Facebook layouts and Facebook backgrounds for your Facebook profile. PageRage caters to numerous styles and design preferences.