These distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) are facilitated by software tools designed to damage a computer network's ability to function by flooding it with useless commands and information, thus denying service to legitimate users. A group calling itself "Anonymous" has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies' and organizations' actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.
The FBI also added that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.
WikiLeaks has disclosed classified U.S. diplomatic dispatches which included candid and embarrassing assessments of world leaders as well as classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Internet activists last month carried out a series of online assaults against institutions they viewed as enemies of WikiLeaks, temporarily bringing down the websites of credit-card giants Visa and MasterCard, Amazon.com and of the Swedish government.
The FBI said that it is working closely with its international law enforcement partners and others to mitigate these threats. Authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, and France have also taken their own investigative and enforcement actions. The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) also is providing assistance. Major Internet security (anti-virus) software providers have instituted updates so they will detect the so-called "Low Orbit Ion Canon" tools used in these attacks.