In an attention-catching change of approach, the latest attack from the hacker group Anonymous doesn't actually involve hacking at all. Wednesday morning, an Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account wondered what would happen if LulzSec, the prankster offshoot of Anonymous, called for a boycott of PayPal, the online payment site that was the target of one of the first major attacks from the group. "Is that a felony?" tweeted AnonymousIRC.
The group then posted an open letter to PayPal, signed by both LulzSec and Anonymous, that blames PayPal for the recent arrest of 14 Anonymous members, mentions PayPal's blocking donation to WikiLeaks and calls on their supporters to boycott the service:
Quite simply, we, the people, are disgusted with these injustices. We will not sit down and let ourselves be trampled upon by any corporation or government. We are not scared of you, and that is something for you to be scared of. We are not the terrorists here: you are.
We encourage anyone using PayPal to immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative. The first step to being truly free is not putting one's trust into a company that freezes accounts when it feels like, or when it is pressured by the U.S. government. PayPal's willingness to fold to legislation should be proof enough that they don't deserve the customers they get. They do not deserve your business, and they do not deserve your respect.
WikiLeaks voiced their support on Twitter soon thereafter, calling on their nearly million-strong following to boycott the service. Together, Anonymous and WikiLeaks accounts reported on the falling stock price of eBay, PayPal's parent company--indeed, eBay's stock price took a hit in early morning trading--and they later tweeted, "Note: WikiLeaks will sue PayPal-eBay, in the US and Europe as per Visa/MasterCard."
While the sort of traditional approach of the hacktivists is a little surprising, the target is not. The FBI cited the PayPal attack in last week's arrests, and recently released documents show that authorities tracked down the hackers based on a list of a thousand IP addresses provided by PayPal. The group all but confirmed the link in their flurry of #OpPayPal tweets.
"We wonder, PayPal, are you aware that you are fighting your customers? FBI, you're fighting your citizens? Bad plan. Believe us," tweeted Anonymous IRC.
UPDATE: PayPal seems unfazed by the boycott. "We haven't seen any changes to our normal operations (including account opening and closing) overnight," said a PayPal spokesperson.