Computer hacking is on the front page and all over the TV news at the moment thanks to the arrest of WikilLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange, a former hacker himself, is considered a borderline terrorist and a sex criminal by many, including authorities in the United States, Great Britain and Sweden. However his followers view him as a sort of online Che Guevera and they have begun waging a kind of digital guerrilla war in his honor.
Computer hackers around the world, including a group known as "Anonymous" took part in "Operation Avenge Assange" this week. The hackers were successful in bringing down websites belonging to various groups they view as enemies of WikiLeaks including MasterCard who are refusing to process payments to the information leaking service. Successful attacks also targeted Visa, a Swiss bank that had frozen WikiLeak's account and the Swedish prosecutors behind Assange's arrest in London this week.
Authorities around the world are concerned that this week's attacks represent a page turn into a more alarming phase of cyber criminality where angry, enraged private citizens can launch cyber attacks for any number perceived effronteries, real or otherwise. The fact that loosely organized groups of amateurs were able to bring down the sites of major institutions like Visa and MasterCard makes cyber security experts very nervous indeed. Like the British fighting against the minutemen in the Revolutionary War, tomorrow's cyber threats could be lurking behind any rock, tree or outcropping, waiting to strike.