M A I N   N E W S

Visa, Mastercard site hacker a 16-yr-old
Netherlands arrests teen, suspects he belongs to larger group of hackers

The Hague, December 10
Dutch authorities have arrested a 16-year-old in the Netherlands in connection with the cyber attacks against Visa, MasterCard and PayPal websites, which were aimed at “punishing” them for refusing to process any more donations to WikiLeaks.

According to a report in the Dutch daily De Volkskrant, which cited police sources, the young man has admitted to the crime. The police suspect he belongs “to a larger group of hackers which is under investigation”. The newspaper reported that several computers and USB memory devices were seized from the teenager, who was expected to appear before court in Rotterdam on Friday.

The arrest follows a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks aimed at websites that have been critical of WikiLeaks, which has been releasing portions of 2.5 lakh secret US diplomatic cables since late last month. The attacks seek to overwhelm websites and services by sending streams of meaningless traffic.

Part of the attacks originated in the Netherlands and the main site coordinating the attacks -- anonops.net -- was hosted in a Dutch data centre in Haarlem. The site is down since police actions on Wednesday.

Right after, the police found out that there were cyber attacks coming from the Netherlands, the Team High Tech Crime started an investigation, the Dutch Attorney General reported. The attorney general also noted that “probably thousands of computers” took part in the attacks. The police are still investigating and will probably arrest more people.

WikiLeaks’ release of its third tranche of leaked secret US Government documents -- US diplomatic cables from the US State Department -- has provoked a type of cyber warfare as critics of the leaks also try to shut down the whistleblower website by overwhelming it with targeted log-ons. WikiLeaks supporters, however, seem ready to retaliate.

A group called Anonymous, which is made up of an uncertain number of anti-censorship hackers, has so far managed to temporarily disable the websites of Mastercard and Visa. On Thursday, the BBC’s Radio 4 programme broadcast an interview with a 22-year-old who goes by the nickname “Coldblood” and claims he is part of Anonymous.

The campaign is aimed at companies that have decided not to deal with WikiLeaks, Coldblood said, and is also a protest against what Anonymous believes is increasing control over the Internet by governments and the European Union. — Agencies





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