Hackivists Unleash “Operation Payback”

404 error: Mastercard was knocked offline Wednesday.

The websites of companies, institutions, and even Sarah Palin were knocked offline Wednesday when hackivists across the globe unleashed “Operation Payback” in response to the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London on rape charges.

Websites that dropped their assistance to Wikileaks were hit the hardest in the DDOS attacks. Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc.,eBay Inc., PayPal Inc., Amazon.com, all reported being knocked offline Wednesday. Especially hard-hit were the two credit card giants, whose 6-hour outages came during the busiest commercial transaction time of the year and affected hundreds of thousands of holiday shoppers.

Both Visa and Mastercard report that no data was stolen in the attacks.

DDOSed: Sarah Palin

The Swedish Prosecutor’s office reported being bombarded by an overnight DDOS attack, and the website for Claes Borgstrom, the lawyer representing the two women making the accusations against Assange, also crashed, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Social networking websites Facebook and Twitter removed pages from Operation Payback after it was discovered they were being used to coordinate the attacks. Members of the group Anonymous, who is affiliated with the campaign, promised to take down Twitter in retaliation.

Perhaps most quixotically was the taking down of the website of former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Wednesday. Palin, who has compared Assange to Al Queda on her Facebook page in the past, saw her SarahPAC.com site knocked offline, reports ABC News. “The attackers wanted us to know that they were affiliated with wikileaks.org through an obscure message in our server log file,” a tech working to restore the website said.

Both Sarah and husband Todd Palin’s personal credit card accounts were also disrupted in the attack.

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