B.C. link traced to WikiLeaks avengers: Smoking Gun website

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is pictured through the heavily tinted windows of a police vehicle as he arrived at Westminster magistrates court in London, on December 14, 2010. Assange blasted Visa, MasterCard and PayPal for blocking donations to his website, in a defiant statement from behind bars ahead of the court appearance. Photograph by: Carl Court, AFP/Getty Images

Despite getting assigned this story on New Year’s Eve, it made the nerd in me explode into a cloud of multi-coloured confetti.

From my story in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun:


A global network accused of Internet attacks against perceived WikiLeaks opponents has a link to B.C.

One of the eight Internet Protocol (IP) addresses — the unique identifiers assigned to computers — hosting a website used to dispense instructions on how to electronically attack perceived opponents has been traced back to Frantech Solutions, based in Greater Victoria, according to five pages of an FBI affidavit obtained by The Smoking Gun website (thesmokinggun.com.

Following WikiLeaks’ highly publicized release of diplomatic cables in late November, U.S. companies including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard decided to suspend the whistle-blowing website’s accounts, citing the continuing investigation against the organization.

In response, groups of WikiLeaks avengers — collectively working under the name “Anonymous” — organized Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against the companies.

DDoS attacks typically involve overwhelming a company’s server with external requests, thereby rendering it unable to respond to legitimate requests.

The attackers, who described themselves as “average Internet citizens,” organized and recruited via several Twitter accounts — such as @operation_anon, @anon_operation and @op_payback — until several of those accounts were suspended as well.

Participants recruited on Twitter were directed to a server at irc.anonops.net, hosted by the eight IP addresses, then instructed to download software designed as a network stress-testing application to take part in the DDoS attacks.

According to the affidavit, members from the RCMP and Saanich police department spoke with Frantech Solutions representative Francisco Dias, who confirmed the company ran a virtual server assigned the IP address in question, but said the server itself was housed at Hurricane Electric in Fremont, Calif.

Continue reading here.

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