The websites of PayPal, Symantec, and many others were hacked, and user and employee account information was published online to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day, Nov. 5, but there have been other reports that PayPal was spared from a cyber attack, and reports that suggest that Anonymous did not compromise Symantec.
Numerous media reports said that hacker group Anonymous was behind the apparent attacks, after the group claimed responsibility via its Twitter account.
Anonymous, via its press Twitter account, “celebrated” the annual day that is observed primarily in the United Kingdom. Guy Fawkes Day originated when Guy Fawkes was arrested on Nov. 5, 1605, while guarding explosives that were placed under the House of Lords in a plot to kill King James I.
In the comic book and movie “V for Vendetta,” Guy Fawkes was turned into a kind of anti-hero who stands up against government tyranny, and the mask he wore has become a symbol of the Anonymous movement.
“PayPal hacked by Anonymous as part of our November 5th protest,” the group said on Twitter.
It was reported by The Next Web that a PayPal server was compromised and hackers stole as many as 28,000 usernames and passwords. The list of names were dumped on the Private Paste website and have apparently been taken down since.
Anuj Nayar, the head of PayPal’s public relations, said Monday via his Twitter account that the firm is “aggressively investigating this but to date we have been unable to find any evidence that validates this claim.”
Nayar further said that PayPal was not the target of the attack and the Anonymous tweets were based on a story that was incorrect. The story was cited in a number of other media reports.
Last year, Anonymous attempted a distributed denial-of-service attack against PayPal as well as MasterCard and Visa for withdrawing support for the anti-secrecy website, Wikileaks.
Hack the Planet, or HTP, on Monday also claimed to have hacked into anti-virus software-maker Symantec, according to Cyber War News. The same website previously said that PayPal was also targeted, but then said it had been in error.
“Even though the leak is clearly marked as being done by HTP, other media has been reporting these two attacks as part of Anonymous,” it said. But it added that Symantec “was also breached” and its complete database was dumped, including account information belonging to some 4,000 employees of Symantec and related firms.
Anonymous Australia said that “other media was wrong,” that Anonymous “also did a” hack on PayPal “separate to the HTP one.”
Websites belonging to NBC, Lady Gaga, and the Australian government were also hacked, the BBC reported.
Anonymous also planned a march Monday evening from St. Paul’s Cathedral to the U.K. Houses of Parliament in London as part of the Guy Fawkes protest.
“This is the centerpiece of a worldwide Anonymous operation of global strength and solidarity, a warning to all governments worldwide that if they keep trying to censor, cut, imprison, or silence the free world or the free internet they will not be our governments for much longer,” a Facebook page operated by the group reads. “Change is coming.”
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