Affidavit Details FBI 'Operation Payback' Probe
As part of an international criminal probe into computer attacks launched this month against perceived corporate enemies of WikiLeaks, the FBI has raided a Texas business and seized a computer server that investigators believe was used to launch a massive electronic attack on PayPal, The Smoking Gun has learned.
The FBI investigation began earlier this month after PayPal officials contacted agents and “reported that an Internet activist group using the names ‘4chan’ and “Anonymous” appeared to be organizing a distributed denial of service (“DDoS”) attack against the company,” according to an FBI affidavit excerpted here.
The PayPal assault was part of “Operation Payback,” an organized effort to attack firms that suspended or froze WikiLeaks’s accounts in the wake of the group’s publication of thousands of sensitive Department of State cables. As noted by the FBI, other targets of this “Anonymous” effort included Visa, Mastercard, Sarah Palin’s web site, and the Swedish prosecutor pursuing sex assault charges against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.
On December 9, PayPal investigators provided FBI agents with eight IP addresses that were hosting an “Anonymous” Internet Relay Chat (IRC) site that was being used to organize denial of service attacks. The unidentified administrators of this IRC “then acted as the command and control” of a botnet army of computers that was used to attack target web sites.