PayPal Guards Against Attack From WikiLeaks Hackers

PayPal Mobile Application Event
A laptop covered with a chain featuring a display for PayPal Inc.'s mobile application is shown here. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

EBay Inc.’s PayPal business took steps today to guard against an attack from computer hackers trying to bring down the site after it cut off funding for WikiLeaks, the organization that publishes secret documents.

PayPal has temporarily strengthened the vetting process for new developers who want to build on PayPal’s software code, the payment-processing company said in an e-mailed statement.

“We have taken this temporary action to focus on maintaining business as usual for our millions of active PayPal customers, merchants and developers,” Anuj Nayar, a spokesman for PayPal, said in a statement. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Hackers have taken steps to harm companies, including PayPal, that have cut off WikiLeaks’ access to their services. Supporters of WikiLeaks, which disseminated classified U.S. military and State Department documents over the Web, failed to bring down Inc. this morning and instead turned their attention to PayPal. The attacks may have limited impact, said Scott Kessler, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s.

“You will see them taking hold for a few hours at most,” said Kessler, who’s based in New York. “These companies are generally speaking well prepared to handle these types of attacks.”

PayPal, based in San Jose, cut off WikiLeaks last week for violating policies of the online payment processor. Seattle-based Amazon, which has hosted the site on its servers, also kicked WikiLeaks off last week.

New Target

“We have changed our target” to PayPal after the attack on Amazon faltered, according to a post on Twitter from a group that says it represents the hackers.

An unidentified member of the group said in an e-mailed statement that it “shares ideals” with WikiLeaks, and that, “some day we will attack successfully Amazon.” The group has no new targets, according to the e-mail.

PayPal’s site had experienced attacks but was not breached, Nayar said. Craig Berman, a spokesman for Amazon, declined to comment.

MasterCard Inc., the world’s second-biggest payments processor, said yesterday its website was slowed by a flood of traffic after it blocked use of its network by WikiLeaks.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working with companies to limit damage to websites that were targets of the attacks, according to a government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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