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Hacktivists bring down Mastercard website in apparent denial-of service attack, Sophos comments

June 2011 by Sophos

MasterCard’s website has been sporadically unavailable following what appears to be a WikiLeaks-inspired internet attack. It’s thought that the website suffered a denial-of-service attack, meaning its site was bombarded with a large amount of internet traffic, making it impossible for genuine visitors to access it.

Twitter user @ibomhacktivist has taken responsibility for the attack, and has tweeted, " DOWN!!!, thats what you get when you mess with @wikileaks @Anon_Central and the enter community of lulz loving individuals :D"

This attack follows the closing statement from LulzSec last week, announcing that its recent spate of attacks were designed to, "selflessly entertain others - vanity, fame, recognition, all of these things are shadowed by our desire for that which we all love. The raw, uninterrupted, chaotic thrill of entertainment and anarchy."

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, argues that even if computer users feel particularly strongly against a certain company such as MasterCard, or believe that attacks of this nature are entertaining, denial-of-service attacks are still illegal and those responsible can face prosecution.

"We’ve seen plenty of headlines over the past couple of months about high profile hacking incidents and unfortunately, the momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing," said Cluley. "This means that the risks to internet users aren’t going away and attacks like this should be a wakeup call for us all when it comes to internet security. While there’s obviously a vast contrast between DDoS attacks and the bad guys looking to steal sensitive information for financial gain, the biggest concern is the attitude towards these attacks, with hackers portraying that it’s all a bit of fun. Companies and computer users mustn’t sit back and laugh along, thinking that these attacks won’t affect them. Businesses need to be sure of the quality of their security systems and all of us who entrust our sensitive information to third parties should be aware that the problem could affect us too."

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