The 4chan message board, a popular discussion forum for the so-called Anonymous activist group that launched a multitude of Denial of Service attacks in retribution for efforts to cut off technical and financial support for WikiLeaks, was itself shut down by a DoS counterattack on Dec. 28
The site's founder, Christopher Poole, posted the message on the site's main page at 2:39 in the morning. "Site is down due to DDoS. We now join the ranks of MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, et al.-an exclusive club!" according to the message.
As of today, the "current status" tool on the site reports all parts of the site as being up, and posts on various 4chan online forums confirm that the boards are back to normal. However, during the course of the attack, the 4chan message boards were the hardest hit, Paul Mutton, a security analyst at Netcraft, told BBC.
"For most of the past 24 hours, the site has either been very slow to respond or has been completely unreachable," said Mutton.
The boards contain 99 percent of the site's content, according to 4chan. The boards at the moment are full of link spam, but on a free-wheeling forum like this, that can mean practically anything.
At the moment, it is still unknown who orchestrated the attack against the site, which had been behind such pranks as hacking into Sarah Palin's Yahoo account and DoS attacks against various commercial sites. Many members who frequent the boards call themselves Anonymous and were behind the attacks that took down MasterCard and Visa's Web sites as well as PayPal's blog earlier this month.
The FBI has been investigating 4chan for their involvement with various DDOS attacks, such as the one that hit the United States Copyright Office, CNET reported in November.
The most likely culprit, a hacktivist who goes by the name Jester, denied on Twitter that he was behind the attacks, "4chan.org - that looks like a TANGO DOWN (not) maybe you guys pissed off the wrong person trying to (wrongly) ID me?" Members of Anonymous had previously said they were going to unmask and then target Jester for his first attack on WikiLeaks just before it released secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
While the large-scale Web attack may be in retaliation for its affiliation with Anonmyous and Operation Payback, this is not the first time 4chan has been hit by an online attack. Over the years, the site has been hit by a number of DDOS attacks but it has rebounded each time.
In February, Verizon blocked access to parts of 4chan. According to a status post by Poole, the site had been under a type of DOS attack which specifically targeted the message boards. The attack made it seem like 4chan was performing some kind of an attack of its own, and Verizon blocked all traffic in an "inappropriate, heavy-handed response," despite there being "no threat to their customers" or network, Poole wrote. Last year AT&T also blocked 4chan briefly for the same reason, according to Poole.
The irony of 4chan being hit by a DDOS was not lost on some of its members. 4chan's official Twitter account said, "We figured @MasterCard @PayPal #Visa were lonely."