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The publication of more than 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks has sparked a war between vigilante hacker groups through a series of denial of service attacks, security experts say.
The WikiLeaks cable disclosures prompted massive international outcry and sparked two denial of service attacks that shut down the site for several hours last week. A hacker, or hacker group, known as The Jester, later came forward as the perpetrator of the WikiLeaks DDoS attacks, citing U.S. troop endangerment as the primary driver.
"TANGO DOWN—for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, 'other assets' & foreign relations," The Jester said in his Twitter feed.
The Jester's attacks resulted in a total of 1 day, 3 hours and 50 minutes of downtime for the beleaguered WikiLeaks site, according to researchers at Panda Security, before it was later booted offline by upstream providers Amazon and EveryDNS.
The Jester had admitted that he used the Internet to coordinate DDoS attacks on Islamic Web sites after he witnessed soldiers being murdered by jihadists. The Jester said he launched the DDoS attacks with a special tool, called Xerxes, which he said could specifically hone in on the target Web site, without harming other Internet Service providers or servers.
Since then, another vigilante hacker group, a loosely coordinated international effort known as Anonymous, has gained attention for coming to the defense of WikiLeaks and its founder Assange by launching its own DDoS attacks against the site's critics, according to a Panda Security blog.
"While we don’t have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same reasons. We want transparency and we counter censorship. The attempts to silence WikiLeaks are long strides closer to a world where we cannot say what we think and are unable to express our opinions and ideas," according to the Anonymous Web site.
Forming an organized effort known as Operation Payback, also known as Operation Avenge Assange, the Anonymous cyber group launched its first attack against the PayPal blog shortly after the company announced that it permanently restricted the WikiLeaks account due to an Acceptable Use Policy violation.