For a brief time on Tuesday, and for the second time within a year, MasterCard's website was apparently hacked by WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks, if you haven't been following the news, has created a lot of migraines for the United States, not to mention various companies, due to its penchant for revealing classified documents on its site for all the world to see. Many high-profile politicians and prominent executives feel these acts are illegal and something akin to digital terrorism.
And so late last year, MasterCard, among other storied financial institutions, like Bank of America, Visa, PayPal and Western Union, began denying people the ability to donate money via their credit cards and debit cards to WikiLeaks.
Seems WikiLeaks and its friends are a little ticked off about that.
WikiLeaks-aligned hackers managed to take MasterCard's website down briefly last year, and now claim to have done it again. The shutting down of the website became apparent to the public and mainstream media when someone noticed that @ibomhacktivist, a Twitter user, had tweeted: "MasterCard.com DOWN!!!, thats what you get when you mess with @wikileaks @Anon_Central and the enter community of lulz loving individuals :D." (sic)
(It irks me, incidentally, that our national discourse is, more and more, losing the ability to use apostrophes and commas. Yes, I realize how Twitter and its 140 characters kind of force one to abbreviate and misspell, but nevertheless, I still can't help but think: What, you can bring giant corporations down to their knees, but you can't learn to start a new sentence with a capital letter? By the way, if you're so inclined, and we hope you are, you can follow CardRatings on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cardratings)
The good news is that according to MasterCard, nobody's information was compromised. The only problem is some tech folks and the executives at MasterCard having some egg on their faces. Furthermore, it may be that WikiLeaks actually had nothing to do with it.
According to The Wall Street Journal, hours after their site was restored, MasterCard blamed their website going down on a snafu with their telecommunications provider. It may be that WikiLeaks was just taking the opportunity to give themselves a little free press, in which case, it's not going to work here. Nowhere in this blog post will you see the mention of the name, Wiki… Oh. Well, never mind.
In an email to Reuters, MasterCard spokesperson Jennifer Stalzer said, "MasterCard's corporate, public-facing website experienced intermittent service disruption, due to a telecommunications/Internet Service Provider outage that impacted multiple users."
High-profile hacking at an end?
It's been an unnerving several weeks for prominent corporations and organizations with websites. In the last couple months, the CIA, the U.S. Senate, Sony and Nintendo have all had problems with hackers apparently affiliated with a group called LulzSecurity (which explains the reference in the tweet to "lulz loving individuals"). Fortunately, this may be the last high-profile hacking for awhile, at least from LulzSecurity.
The day before the MasterCard incident, one of Lulz's members told the Associated Press that they were disbanding after 50 days of hacking. What is kind of creepy and should worry any international conglomerate or government with a website, however, is that LulzSecurity claims that they aren't stopping hacking because they're afraid of being caught, or that web security is getting more sophisticated and difficult to break into.
No, they're not quitting because of that. If only.
They say they are bored.