Anonymous Targets UK Gov’t Websites in So-Called ‘Digital Protest’
After claiming responsibility for attacks on the Home Office and 10 Downing Street websites overnight Saturday into Sunday, members of the Anonymous hacking collective have vowed that they will target different British Government websites for disruption each weekend, various media outlets have reported.
According to BBC News reports on Sunday, the homepage of the Home Office (the UK government agency in charge of immigration, passports, drug policy, crime, police and counter-terrorism) became inaccessible due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack at approximately 21:00 BST (9:30pm local time).
An hour later, the website remained offline, with an advisory reading “service unavailable” being posted instead of the agency’s actual online content, NewsCore reported on Saturday.
“The Home Office website was the subject of on online protest last night,” a spokesman told Telegraph Home Affairs Editor Martin Beckford on Sunday. “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.
“Measures put in place to protect the website meant that members of the public were unable to access the site intermittently,” he added. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take measures accordingly.”
The Home Office site was not the only website reportedly targeted by the DDoS attacks, which bring the pages offline by overflowing them with traffic. Beckford reported that the Downing Street website was targeted at about 10:30pm. Likewise, the Associated Press (AP) said that the hackers claimed that they attacked the Justice Ministry website.
Beckford reported that a spokesman said that the site was only down for a “couple of minutes,” and the AP added that “the Home Office and Justice Ministry websites were both operating normally Sunday morning.”
The motives behind the attacks remain unclear. Both BBC News and the AP said that some Twitter reports cited “proposed draconian surveillance” measures as the reason for the DDoS attacks. Others, however, claim that the websites were targeted because of Britain’s extradition policy, with one post allegedly warning against handing over “UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence.”
Posting on Twitter, Anonymous called the action a “digital protest,” emphasizing that UK citizens wanted “their government to listen” and that they could keep up the DDoS activity for “as long as it takes,” according to the Telegraph’s report. The organization added, “We are Anonymous, we do not forget, we do not forgive.”