18 October 2017

WikiLeaks: Hackers humble MasterCard; IT firm threatens to sue Visa Europe

08 December 2010  |  17433 views  |  2 biometric eye

MasterCard's Web site is offline after a suspected attack from hackers in retaliation for the card company's decision to cut off payments to whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks. The attacks appear to have also hit the MasterCard SecureCode service, disrupting potentially millions of online transactions.

The group of activists, calling themselves Anonymous and linked to the 4chan site are understood to have targeted 'anti WikiLeaks' sites in a move dubbed 'Operation Payback'.

In a tweet the group claims to have caused an outage today, ongoing at the time of writing, at mastercard.com. This follows a similar distributed denial of service attack that forced PayPal's blog offline. The Web site of Swiss bank Postfinance was also recently taken down for around 24 hours after it closed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's account.

On Monday MasterCard said it is blocking payments because WikiLeaks is engaging in illegal activity, a move soon followed by Visa, as corporate America joins in the condemnation of the organisation as it continues to embarrass the US political elite by publishing leaked diplomatic cables.

In a statement today, the firm admitted it is "experiencing heavy traffic on its external corporate website" but claimed it "remains accessible" and initally insisted that "there is no impact whatsoever on our cardholders' ability to use their card for secure transactions".

However this has been contradicted by the BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones on Twitter: "Paypoint says all payment services companies have been affected by an outage at MasterCard's SecureCode service.."

In a new statement, quoted by the Guardian, MasterCard is now admitting issues with payments: "Please be advised that MasterCard SecureCode Support has detected a service disruption to the MasterCard Directory Server. The Directory Server service has been failed over to a secondary site however customers may still be experiencing intermittent connectivity issues. More information on the estimated time of recovery will be shared in due course."

Meanwhile, DataCell, the Iceland-based firm that enables Wikileaks to accept card payments says it will take immediate legal action against Visa Europe over the issue.

In a statement, DataCell CEO Andreas Fink says he has received a suspension notice stating that Visa Europe has ordered the payment processor to suspend payments for one week from today.

DataCell has "decided to take up immediate legal actions to make donations possible again"

Fink goes on: "The suspension of payments towards Wikileaks is a violation of the agreements with their customers. Visa users have explicitly expressed their will to send their donations to Wikileaks and Visa is not fulfilling this wish. It will probably hurt their brand much much more to block payments towards Wikileaks than to have them occur. Visa customers are contacting us in masses to confirm that they really donate and they are not happy about Visa rejecting them. It is obvious that Visa is under political pressure to close us down."

PayPal originally said that the WikiLeaks' account had violated its terms of services when it stopped processing payments on its behalf last week. The firm's Osama Bedier has now told the Le Web conference in France that the decision came off the back of a State Department letter asserting that WikiLeaks' activities were illegal.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley has tweeted: "The U.S. government did not write to PayPal requesting any action regarding #WikiLeaks. Not true."


Comments: (2)

Keith Appleyard
Keith Appleyard - available for hire - Bromley | 08 December, 2010, 12:53

I did try to make a donation via DataCell in case the door had not yet closed, but got a bland message "transaction declined".

Given the Visa Corporate Structure, I can't understand why Visa Europe, a separate entity to Visa USA, has also chosen to give in to US Government pressure and close down the Wikileaks account - I hope DataCell get them reinstated.

Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
Stephen Wilson
Stephen Wilson - Lockstep Group - Sydney | 09 December, 2010, 13:27

What's the point of hacktivists taking the law into their own hands when Wikileaks is trying to claim the moral high ground? Is the Anonymous motto now "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"? DDOS attacks by self appointed cyber vigilantes might be met with governmental Internet controls the likes of which we've never seen in the free world.

Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 thumb ups! (Log in to thumb up)
Comment on this story (membership required)

Finextra news in your inbox

For Finextra's free daily newsletter, breaking news flashes and weekly jobs board: sign up now

Related stories

WikiLeaks: Merkel furious at MEPs over Swift data sharing deal rejection

WikiLeaks: Merkel furious at MEPs over Swift data sharing deal rejection

06 December 2010  |  14429 views  |  0 comments
Major US bank next in line for WikiLeaks

Major US bank next in line for WikiLeaks

30 November 2010  |  13673 views  |  4 comments

Related company news


Related blogs

Create a blog about this story (membership required)
visit www.fivedegrees.nlvisit www.vasco.com

Top topics

Most viewed Most shared
Ripple looks to drive bank adoption with $300m XRP rebate programmeRipple looks to drive bank adoption with $...
15401 views comments | 12 tweets | 4 linkedin
Swift positive on blockchain, but big challenges remainSwift positive on blockchain, but big chal...
8605 views comments | 16 tweets | 22 linkedin
hands typing furiouslyHow artificial intelligence can deliver a...
8134 views 0 | 8 tweets | 9 linkedin
satelliteGates Foundation backs Ripple collaboratio...
7649 views comments | 13 tweets | 9 linkedin
IBM uses blockchain to improve cross-border payments processingIBM uses blockchain to improve cross-borde...
6811 views comments | 9 tweets | 17 linkedin

Featured job

Competitive base, double ote, benefits
London, UK

Find your next job