A loose collective of international hackers have targeted British government websites with a recent attack. The result: both the United Kingdom’s Home Office and Downing Street websites were taken offline for a short period of time.
The hacking group in question is known as “Anonymous” and, it must be said, prefer to call themselves “hacktivists”. That’s because they tend to use something called a distributed denial-of-service attack to disable websites rather than simply hack into and steal from them.
By contrast, the Anonymous strategy involves overwhelming a site’s servers with traffic, causing the site to crash.
Anonymous has become well known in recent years for targeting credit card companies, copyright protection organizations, and government agencies as a way to promote their agenda.
The most recent victim: the UK government. According to reports, on Saturday night Anonymous reached out to its growing base of supporters via Twitter in an attempt to overwhelm the Home Office website. It worked: from 9pm until early the next morning the site was completely inaccessible.
“The Home Office website was the subject of on online protest last night,” a Home Office representative announced.
Not long thereafter, Anonymous also targeted the Downing Street website, taking it offline around 10:30pm. However, it appears the second outage only lasted a few minutes, rather than several hours.
Importantly, it appears no information was stolen in either attack.
“There is no indication that the site was hacked and other Home Office systems were not affected,” a Home Office representative said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take measures accordingly.”
So, what’s the beef? Anonymous appears to be protesting the UK government’s recent decision to extradite three British citizens accused of hacking American law enforcement agencies. All three were recently sent to the United States to stand trial.
Last week Anonymous first voiced its opposition to that decision with a poster featuring photos of all three hackers under the slogan “Fight Extradition”.