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 307.

    It's all the unions fault isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    No-one ever won any attention from this government with peacefull protest.
    Wondeful! We've had Hitler, Thatcher, conspiracy theories, threats and now violence - and all cos diddums didn't get his/her way. Bring on the law, expose the criminals, bring them to justice & blow this bilge-water down the drain where it belongs..

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    296.Some Lingering Fog
    What did you expect them to do... in a two party coalition government?

    I expect them to live up to the ideals that made people vote for them! What is the point if you can falsely advertise your intentions? How can anyone trust the current Lib MP's now? And if the coalition means they have to abandon thos principles maybe they shouldn't be in that coalition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    The government is hell bent in curtailing our freedoms on the internet, and they expect us to take it? They don't listen to us through 'normal' channels, so what else are we to do? What the government is doing is a dangerous precedence for which there is no turning back. We need a voice and we've found one. Thank you Anonymous, keep up the good work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    I never elected these hackers to protest on my behalf by damaging property.In the 1980`s,i was sick of middle class people,turning to communism even spying for the USSR and telling the working class how life is wonderful as a communist while they live in detactched house`s with mummy and daddy.
    These hackers the are same.The boat race protester,the same,makes me sick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    The more this government ignore the people of this country the more they can expect direct action.
    No-one ever won any attention from this government with peacefull protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    @297. GeoSquared

    I'm not sure if you realise that this is global trend, not a British exception to the rule. Every country you look into has a worker's party that used to be the opposition to the liberal/conservative and now has turned into a 'softer' version of it's opposition


    So why don't the affiliated unions who finance the worker's party simply withdraw their funds and start again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    Protest or not this kind of direct action is deeply selfish and the people who perpetrate these crimes are just as suspect as the proposed government measures they claim to oppose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    At leaat someone is doing something while the rest of us mumble and shuffle our feet in silence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Doctor Bob. You are right, and if you want to see the next step, then look across the pond.

    American police can now arrest anyone, for no reason...
    The state is telling it's citizens that it can, and will, rape them if they step out of line

    => I certainly wdn't like to live in the US right now. Worse, the authorities have convinced most citizens no such surveillance exists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    286. Some Lingering Fog

    I'm not sure if you realise that this is global trend, not a british exception to the rule. Every country you look into has a worker's party that used to be the oposition to the liberal/conservative and now has turned into a 'softer' version of it's opposition. I'm sorry, I'd be lying if I called this a well-run democracy and I blame parliamentism for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    @292. Wonko-the-sane

    Hahaha! Have you been away for the last year? Not noticed how the Lib Dems have abandoned every single principle they held or promise they made in their manifesto?


    What did you expect them to do once they had become the minor party in a two party coalition government?

    Do you think this principles abandonment is permanent (like Labour) or just temporary?

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    MarkH2012. It's good that you think like that, if only so that one more person distrusts this govt. more. However, you are wrong to believe that a successful DDoS attack is in any way similar to hacking a system to gain information.

    But please, keep distrusting this shower, it's the LEAST they deserve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Thank-you anonymous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    A vast government IT project? The greatest worry is not the loss of privacy, it's the loss of billions of pounds and decades of confusion, as the budget quadruples and the IT professionals finally admit that the original spec cannot be delivered. Personally I'd like to know precisely who lobbied for this and who supported it. God alone knows what the true drivers of this nonsense actually are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    286.Some Lingering Fog
    However there still is choice - people can vote Lib Dem or Green instead can't they?

    Hahaha! Have you been away for the last year? Not noticed how the Lib Dems have abandoned every single principle they held or promise they made in their manifesto? At least we should have finally all learnt how corrupt MP's are. Now what are we going to do about it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    The Politicians ignore the of stated wishes of the majority.
    Th Authourities drag their heels in chasing criminals.
    Must we start to rely on teams of private hackers to protect the interests of the population?

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    I have a serious doubt about governament surveillance proposals. Criminals are criminals, they will use stolen accounts, anonimizes, vpns, cryptology, etc while doing their criminal acts. Perhaps the data collected can be useful to understand trends of a population, but as data networking researcher at PARC Van Jacobson says "security can not be made based on enpoint conections "

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    If the home office cant stop hacker's then it doesent say an awfull lot about the UK's security does it ?? Think about it Why do we need hackers ?? Maybe to expose security loopholes in government security I think that might be the answer to this dont you !! After all if the home office cant stop this what saecurity can they offer to the rest of the country Not A great deal obviously !!

  • Comment number 288.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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