Anonymous sets web alight in 5 November protests

Hacking collective Anonymous has started the action it pledged for the 5th November, targeting Australian government websites and big hitters such as PayPal.

While in the UK we celebrate Guy Fawkes’ attempts to blow up parliament by standing in fields and blowing up small bits of grass, Anonymous has embarked on a hacking spree that has threatened Facebook, NBC, Paypal and more.

*Update Paypal is now claiming that the 28,000 passwords that were leaked belonged to open source hosting website, ZPanel. Paypal spokesperson Anuj Nayar claimed that an ongoing investigation from Sunday night concluded no Paypal data had been breached.

ZDNET reports that this particular spree appears to be in protest of systemic, global surveillance systems such as TrapWire, which was the focus of a recent Wikileaks file drop earlier this year. Ironically, the vigilante-style nature of Anonymous’ attack could be seen by technologically un-savvy and increasingly paranoid authorities around the world as the very sort of event to justify boosting surveillance and reducing civil liberties online. 

ZDNET’s Violet Blue has compiled the companies allegedly victim to hacks, which includes ImageShack and Paypal, steel mining company Arcelor Mittal, the Greek City website, and the Ghana Consulate website, as well as leaking VMware’s ESX Server Kernel source code. An attack against antivirus software company Symantec seems to be unrelated. 

Paypal, responding to the announcement, said that it is investigating but there’s no evidence right now that account details have been compromised, reports The Next Web. The @AnonymousPress Twitter account did link to a post on PrivatePaste that has since been taken down. If the hack did happen, Paypal will be looking at nearly 28,000 compromised details.

The allegations are all part of Anonymous’ day of action on 5 November to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night – presumably as a symbol of protest from the V for Vendetta series and not as a nod to the Catholic radical’s theological views.

There has also been some whispering that Anonymous will attempt to take down Facebook in response to the way social-games spammer Zynga’s alleged plans to lay off the majority of its workforce, as well as the company’s “actions against many developers” which Anonymous views as devastating to the gaming industry. It urged Zynga to change its tune or face the consequences. 

The collective has endured despite attempts from the US to shut it down. A march on Parliament is also planned to coincide with the online activism, while V for Vendetta writer Alan Moore has himself released a single in support of the Occupy and Anonymous movements.