Nissan is the latest Japanese organisation to be targeted by hacktivist group Anonymous in its campaign to raise awareness of Japan’s continued killing of whales and dolphins.
Two of the Japanese car maker’s main websites have been driven offline by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that bombards targeted sites with page requests.
The Anonymous campaign has also recently targeted websites belonging to the Japanese president, some government departments, whaling groups and several news organisations.
Japanese websites were targeted after the country announced it would resume whaling in 2016 after a year-long break.
Japanese whalers are allowed to kill up to 333 whales a year for the next 12 years, The Independent reports.
In November 2015, Anonymous is believed to have taken most of Iceland’s government websites offline for more than 10 hours as part of the same campaign.
The rise in the use of DDoS attacks by hacktivist groups for politically motivated purposes has prompted leading organisations to include such attacks in their routine business risk assessments.
In recent years, several prominent commercial brands have been targeted by hacktivists, including Microsoft, Burger King, PayPal UK, FoxNews and the Financial Times.
In March 2015, a survey published by Neustar revealed that DDoS attacks could expose 40% of businesses in Europe to losses of £100,000 or more an hour at peak times.
In addition to the cost of downtime, Neustar said there is also the cost of dealing with increased demand on customer service call centres, risk management costs and even marketing costs to restore trust and brand reputation.
Although Nissan has said it has no view on the hunting of dolphins and whales, the hacktivists said the car maker was targeted because it is a big corporation in Japan.
“We have targeted big corporations to spread awareness about the killing [of dolphins] in the cove in Taiji because the Japanese news is censoring it,” one of the hacktivists said, according to the BBC.
Nissan said it took its Japanese and global websites offline in response to the DDoS attacks as a precaution against any potential threat to their information systems.
But the hacktivists said they would not harm Nissan’s customer data or system data, and the company’s US and European websites have remained online.
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