WikiLeaks neither supports nor condemns the cyber attacks that have targeted its critics, it said Friday, just as it appears the attackers are mounting a fresh operation against Moneybookers.com.
The whistleblowing website wrote on its Twitter feed that it is not affiliated with Anonymous, a group of online activists that have attacked websites of companies that cut off services to WikiLeaks.
On its website, WikiLeaks went further.
“There has been no contact between any WikiLeaks staffer and anyone at Anonymous,” said a statement there. “WikiLeaks has not received any prior notice of any of Anonymous’ actions.”
“We neither condemn nor applaud these attacks. We believe they are a reflection of public opinion on the actions of the targets,” the statement continued, attributing the remarks to WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.
Meanwhile, those with Anonymous appear to be looking for more computing power to use in attacks on websites such as Moneybookers.com.
Early on Friday, “Anonymous Operations” wrote on its Twitter feed that they had begun targeting Moneybookers.com, which banned WikiLeaks from using its services in August. Anonymous has been targeting companies that have halted business with WikiLeaks, including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Amazon.com and PostFinance, a Swiss financial institution.
The attacks against Moneybookers.com have been somewhat successful, with data showing the site was unavailable for some time on Friday morning, said Paul Mutton , a security analyst with Netcraft.
One of the tools used to attack Moneybookers.com is the LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon), which is a denial-of-service tool that sends garbage traffic to a website.
Those behind the attacks have set up command-and-control servers that can automatically issue instructions to computers running LOIC. Those command-and-control servers can issue commands via IRC chat channels and even Twitter, Mutton said. There is also a Web-based version of LOIC that can be manually configured to attack websites.
Security researchers have been monitoring chatter on IRC between those involved in Anonymous. There are indications that other people who control vast numbers of computers owned by people who are not aware they are infected with botnet code are interested in joining the action, said Amichai Schulman , chief technology officer for the security vendor Imperva.
Other research suggests that Anonymous would like to harness as many as 100,000 computers for an attack. Amazon.com still appears to be on the attack radar after other attempts to knock it offline failed.
“We have seen they were attempting to do it but they realized they don’t have enough horsepower,” Schulman said.
So far the attacks have not resulted in consistent disruption, as those websites are likely working with their ISPs and to have taken defensive measures.
“I don’t really believe they will be able to knock down Amazon even if they use involuntary botnets,” Schulman said. Amazon has “so much redundancy” built into its systems, he said.