Authorities in the United States and Germany have launched raids against Internet Service Providers they suspect may have been involved in DDOS attacks against the likes of Mastercard, Visa, and PayPal as part of “Operation: Payback.” Germany’s Federal Criminal Policy have raided ISP Host Europe after reportedly connecting an IRC server there to Tailor Made Services in Dallas, while documents posted to the Smoking Gun Web site indicate the FBI seized hard drives earlier this month from systems at Tailor Made Services and California’s Hurricane Electric. The documents indicate the FBI has also traced IRC hosting addresses to ISPs in Canada and France.
According to the materials, the FBI got involved in the action when Operation: PayBack launched an intial attack on PayPal’s blog. The blog was rendered inaccessible for several hours, and was attacked again several days later. According to the FBI, the attack against PayPal was launched from the Dallas computers.
The Operation: Payback DDOS attacks were launched in retaliation for Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, and other organizations withdrawing financial services from Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Although the attacks were disruptive to public portions of sites, with the exception of Switzerland’s PostFinance they did not interfere with customer operations or transactions. The attacks may have been more valuable for the publicity they gathered for Anonymous and Wikileaks: the FBI documents note that Operation: Payback recruited users to voluntary participate in its botnet attacks using Twitter and other mechanisms. So far there has only been one arrest in connection to the attacks: Dutch authorities arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with Operation: Payback on December 9.
In the past, Anonymous has targeted groups like the Motion Picture Association of America and American politician Sarah Palin with similar attacks.