K.S. Rajan (2 Feb 2012)
"Brazilian Banks' Websites Face Hacker Attacks"

Activist hackers, this time in Brazil.

From today's WSJ, FYI,

JANUARY 31, 2012, 3:54 P.M. ET
Brazilian Banks' Websites Face Hacker Attacks
SÃO PAULO—The website of one of Brazil's largest banks succumbed to cyber attacks on Tuesday, the second to fall victim in as many days.
The attacks shut down the website of Banco Bradesco SA Brazil's third-biggest bank, for hours on Tuesday, and came after a similar attack Monday that shut down the website of Brazil's Itaú Unibanco Holding SA for much of the day.
"Our main objective is to encourage the great mass to fight for their rights to live in a country with less inequality," the Anti-Security Brazilian Team said in an emailed statement.
The group, together with iPiratesGroup, said it will target Brazil's five largest banks this week and already has drawn up an action list for the rest of the year, which will include airlines, telephone companies and credit-card companies, as well as government websites. The group said it also plans to hijack transmissions by radio stations.
The groups, which said they started up in the middle of last year, deface websites and use denial-of-service attacks to overwhelm a website with too many requests for information.
The members are mostly aged between 25 and 40, are graduates, and aren't after money, according to the statement. "Everyone has an honest job! Look, we have plenty of knowledge to carry out frauds … lol, but we're not thieves!" it said.
The groups described their attack against Itaú as a constant back-and-forth with the bank throughout the day, with the hackers on one side and the bank on the other side. As the hackers thrust, the bank would parry, and the hackers would then adjust and try to strike again.
"Look, there is no system/computer/server or whatever which is 100% secure," the group said. Human beings are "the weakest part of the process."
A group first thought to be behind the attack—Plano Anonymous Brasil—sought to distance itself, saying AntisecBrTeam, iPiratesGroup and a third group, LulzSec, were trying to demoralize its members. "Attention, the attacks against banks that have been happening since yesterday, aren't actions being taken by the Anonymous collective," Plano Anonymous Brasil said on its Facebook page.
Aurelio Boni, a vice president at Bradesco, said Tuesday morning that double the number of normal requests were made to access the bank's website, which created problems for customers trying to use its online services. Bradesco's website handles some five million operations per day, including statement requests and online payments, he said during a news conference to discuss the bank's fourth-quarter earnings.
The executive said the bank didn't have any information on where the attacks came from and said it didn't have any advance warning in recent days. The customer database was "completely protected," Mr. Boni said.
Overnight, the hackers posted a document in which they attacked "rotten and corrupt politics" in Brazil, and said they wanted to change the country. They labeled this week's action as #OpWeeksPayment, which was the trending topic on Twitter in São Paulo, according to the Trendsmap website.
The hackers characterized themselves as pirates and displayed a flag with a skull and crossbones on their Facebook page. Their comments are often phrased in naval terminology.
"Today is a good day, the wind is in our favor and we're sailing toward our next target," the group had said early Tuesday morning, before the attack on Bradesco's website.
Itaú, Brazil's second-biggest bank, behind state-owned Banco do Brasil SA, had said its websites had been unavailable at times Monday and service was quickly restored. It didn't say what damage had been done.
The hacker group had warned of attacks this week, and had hinted it might be attacking banks. "Have you paid your bills? Are you going to leave it to the last minute? The most-waited-for week of the month is approaching! Where do you plan to spend your $$$?" the group said Sunday evening.
Marcial Portela, president of Banco Santander (Brasil) SA, on Tuesday said there were warnings a week ago. "We had information from our technology area about a week ago that these attacks could happen and we're vigilant," Portela said. So far, Santander hadn't been targeted, he said.
The Brazilian Federation of Banks said it has been calling for a law to criminalize "electronic attacks and fraud."
"The approval of a law on this issue, which has been under discussion in the National Congress for several years, would help in fighting this type of conduct," it added.
As it sought to distance itself, the Plano Anonymous Brasil group said it wouldn't attack websites to hurt individuals. The group had joined with LulzSec to hit government websites in June last year, including the website of Brazil President Dilma Rousseff as well as that of state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Anonymous has been active elsewhere in Latin America. Last year, the group hacked into the Facebook page of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, also targeting the website of Ecuador's president and other government pages to protest what they called Rafael Correa's "radical positions" against freedom of expression.
—Rogerio Jelmayer in São Paulo, Mercedes Alvaro in Quito, Ecuador, and Dan Molinski in Bogotá, Colombia, contributed to this article.
Write to Matthew Cowley at matthew.cowley@dowjones.com