Nissan temporarily took down its websites earlier this week following a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks launched by the hacktivist group Anonymous.
According to a report by Agence France-Presse, Japan's second largest car manufacturer first witnessed a spike in web traffic on Tuesday evening and decided to shut down its global websites a few hours later.
"We take any potential threat to our information systems seriously," Nissan said in a statement. "Because of a potential distributed denial of service attack, we are temporarily suspending service on our websites to prevent further risks."
At around the same time that Nissan's sites went dark, a Twitter account operating under the bannerof Anonymous claimed responsibility for the attack.
The account also tweeted out images of dolphins being hunted in the wild along with a photograph of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspecting a Nissan automobile.
— Anonymous (@_RektFaggot_) January 12, 2016
As of this writing, Nissan's websites are back online.
One of the attackers who participated in the DDoS campaign offered an explanation to the BBC of why Nissan had been targeted:
"They are a big corporation in Japan, and 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. As a note for Nissan, we are not out to harm your customer data or system data."
The attacks against Nissan represent the latest phase in Anonymous' "#OpWhales" campaign, which began back in December when Japan announced that it would resume hunting whales in the Antarctic, reports The Independent.
In protest of this decision, the hacktivist group took down close to 100 websites of airports, whaling groups, and even the site of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The group also released a video announcing the campaign against Japan on YouTube:
"We will not stand by and watch these innocent creatures be killed. Japan has no right to hunt these animals. We, the people, are digusted."
Nissan has made it clear that it has no stance towards or connection with whale hunting. But then again, per the earlier statement an attacker made to the BBC, Anonymous has never claimed otherwise.
Nissan was always a strategic target; it was never symbolic. After failing to generate the attention it wanted in its December campaigns, the group likely wanted to go as high profile as possible.
Well, they succeeded in garnering people's attention. Whether Abe and the Japanese government respond in a manner that is receptive to Anonymous' views remains to be seen.