Hactivist collective Anonymous has called for a boycott of PayPal.
The group wants supporters to empty their accounts and avoid using the payment service in protest against the prosecution of a university student who allegedly participated in denial of service attacks against PayPal last year. Mercedes Haefer, a 20-year-old journalism student at the university of Nevada, is among around 14 people facing hacking charges punishable by a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment and a large fine. It has been alleged that Haefer had used her home PC to attack PayPal's systems.
In response, Anonymous and LulzSec put out a statement calling for a boycott of PayPal, as the first phase of #OpPayPal.
This lawful direct action represents a change of tactics for Anonymous, which has become much more closely associated with illegal DDoS attacks against targets (Sony, FBI-affiliated security organisations, the entertainment industry, payment firms who blocked WikiLeaks accounts, Scientologists etc). Anonymous, which claims at least 450 PayPal accounts have already been deleted, threatens further unspecified actions in future.
In recent weeks Anonymous and LulzSec have rarely stayed with the same target for more than a day at a time, so it will be interesting to see how long #OpPayPal lasts or how it evolves. Security firm Panda has already spotted chatter suggesting a move towards illegal tactics is already being discussed, at least. ®