Expect more online attacks, Anonymous hackers say

Screen grab of the Home Office website The Home Office website was apparently targeted in protest at government policies

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The hacking group Anonymous says it will launch online attacks every weekend, following claims it disrupted access to the Home Office website.

Anonymous Twitter messages warned of the attack on 4 April, and said: "Expect a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) every Saturday on the UK Government sites."

The Home Office site was inaccessible for several hours on Saturday night.

Officials say no sensitive information was lost, and it is now back to normal.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack floods a webserver with so many requests that it can no longer respond to legitimate users.

The Home Office website became inaccessible around 21:00 BST on Saturday, and was patchy from 05:00 on Sunday.

It is not clear whether the protest was against email surveillance or extradition, but it could be both.

One message on Twitter said it was a protest against "draconian surveillance proposals", but another claimed it was over extradition from the UK to the US.

One tweet claiming to be from Anonymous said: "You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial."

There were also claims on Twitter that the 10 Downing Street website had been targeted as part of the same protest.

Anonymous at work

This is the latest in a series of attacks on official websites claimed by the hacktivists since the start of the year.

In January hackers who identified themselves under the Anonymous banner targeted the FBI and US Department of Justice following the takedown of the Megaupload file-sharing site, posting notice of the assault on Pastebin.

The action was dubbed Tango Down - a military term adopted by hackers to reference an important site successfully taken offline.

The following month the same phrase was used by the YourAnonNews twitter feed when the CIA's site went offline - although the feed later noted that just because it reported a hack did not mean it caused it.

Other attacks credited to the group include take-downs or defacements of sites belonging to the Vatican, Interpol and the Polish and Chinese governments, as well as the release of emails alleged to have been stolen from the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

This was dismissed by a Downing Street spokesman - but access to Number 10's site was slow and intermittent for a time.

Last month the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said major changes were needed to the UK-US extradition treaty to restore "public faith".

The MPs said they believed it was "easier to extradite a British citizen to the USA than vice versa".

Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, has been fighting extradition to the US for 10 years.

Mr McKinnon, of north London, is accused of hacking US military computer systems in 2002.

Chris Tappin, of Orpington, south-east London, was extradited to the US on 24 February over allegations of arms dealing.

It has been claimed he conspired to sell batteries for use in Iranian missiles.

Student Richard O'Dwyer, of Chesterfield, is also fighting extradition on copyright infringement charges on a website he ran from the UK.

Earlier in the week the Home Office said it planned to "legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows" to bring in email surveillance measures.

Ministers say change is needed to help fight crime and terrorism, but critics warn it is an attack on privacy.

'Not hacked'

A spokeswoman said: "The Home Office website was the subject of on online protest last night.

"This is a public facing website and no sensitive information is held on it.

"There is no indication that the site was hacked and other Home Office systems were not affected."

Local government minister Grant Shapps: "People rely on a site like this (the Home Office website) for information"

She said measures have been put in place to protect the website, and the Home Office will monitor the situation.

Anonymous is a loose group of "hacktivists" who came to the fore in 2010 in the wake of the emergence of Julian Assange's Wikileaks website.

Anonymous began by aiming DDoS attacks on websites, like the credit card firm Visa, who had withdrawn services from Wikileaks.

But it has gradually changed into a grouping which claims to battle government surveillance and attempts to police the internet.

Earlier this week Anonymous claimed to have defaced almost 500 websites in China.

A message put on the hacked sites said the attack was carried out to protest against the Chinese government's strict control of its citizens.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Violet Mildred.

    Go and watch V for Vendetta, you will be crying out for somebody like anon in the very near future.

    The eurozone is on the verge of collapse.

    Britain is bankrupt and the only reason our economy hasnt collapsed is because we print our own money, we can only do this for so long as this will also cause a collapse at some point

    100 Year bonds ?


  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    It's a pity that irrespective of the truth or otherwise of these allegations, and any intent on the part of those responsible, it hands the Government a useful tool.

    That is, they and their friends can characterise those passionately opposed to their plans as basically lawless.

    A very old technique but used effectively during the miners' strike etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    This country is under attack - by the govt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Someone mentioned Orwell a little while ago. Could it be that he really did see this coming? The only thing he got wrong, in that case, was the date.

    Too many politicians consider the easy way out instead of properly coming to grips with crime. The result? We are hounded by legal agencies and companies outside our own boundaries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Why is it that, with all the resources and skills at the government's disposal, their websites are not securely protected against such attacks? Are the hackers realy smarter than the experts our taxes pay for? Or is it incompetence on the part of those charged with anticipating and managing these threats?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    All this MI5 / MI5 / James Bond nonsense should be relegated to history, along with our support of the USA in their silly ventures.

    We would not stand a chance in a real war against a REAL aggressor.

    And, as for protecting our industrial secrets from China . .
    Unplug sensitive computers from the net ! simples !

    UK should concentrate on being a big Sweden or Denmark not a small USA. Pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    @ 72. PCMyrs, have protesters ever been elected? Surely all protestors are self appointed! What a strange comment you have made.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Are anonymous and dangermouse related?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    This just goes to prove that people out there are a danger to the uk

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Well Done Anonymous
    I am sick of this nanny state
    our freedoms are being eroded everyday
    It's good that someone has taken a stance against the people who would deny us our feedoms

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Hello Government,

    We quite understand your point in putting forward these proposals & frankly in am conservative supporter from the beginning. However & whatsoever in this particuclar matter please backoff and revisit this proposal instead stop stupid asylum & one stupid proposal & senseless thought is enough to lose power & remember these are same people who trusted & elected you, hence listen!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    It reminds me of the power unions back in the 1970s who caused disruption every winter - just because they could.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    camoron will use this as an excuse to hammer his new online spying bill into law... except it would not prevent things like this from happening again or even catching who did it.. he'll try tho, i betcha!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    So what did all these protests outside St Pauls and others achieve? Nothing as far as i can see, no change in government policy at all. So what gives hackers, sorry criminals, a mandate to push this robin hood mentality of standing up for the man in the street? Show who you are and you would get more respect for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    I find the idea behind Anonymous to be unhealthy. A bunch of people who disguise themselves and hide in the shadows trying to influence peoples opinion by disrupting and annoying behaviour. If the protest is legitimate then be man enough to stand up for it and use democratic process to gain support. Anonymous have behaved no differently to the man in Thames, it is a corrupt form of protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    This is by no means a legitimate protest. Have they used illegal means? Those who suffer are those wanting to use the site, not the Government. I am pig sick of unelected, self appointed protesters taking illegal action in our name. I may agree with the objective in this case, but not the means.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    "Nice to see Godwin's Law proven so early in the discussion."

    Had to get it in early, though in this case, it's entirely right, just we're seeing the start of a New World Order rather than just one despotic nationalist regime. It's happening in Europe just as it's happening in USA, vertical integration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    For the actions of this Kindergarden Cabinet and Camer-looney lead so called government, I would hope every UK govt website is brought down 24/7 so that Theresa May can have her Norman Lamont moment.NL told George Soro's that no one person could determine the value of the pound. GS flooded the market with bn's of £'s and we crashed from the ERM. Humility. something Tory's fail to have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    The government is currently drawing up proposals to kick under 25s who are unemployed out of their council properties.

    They are also selling off all the council houses.

    The housing shortage is astronmical in this country yet the government still wont build any houses.

    Why wont they build any houses ?

    Pretty simple really.

    The queen owns the land and would rather people end up homeless


  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Maybe they are trying to put a message across on behalf of the uk, bit like in the old days before britain lost its backbone! and a new breed of wuss evolved. As nobody cares or says anything (except on here in controlled circumstances) then yes these things will get passed under your nose.
    Shame really because i wonder how many of you had to think before you wrote - point delivered


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