Anonymous attack knocks Home Office offline

8 Apr 2012
hacking

Government sites targeted by "digital protest" against extradition to the US

The Home Office website was taken offline by a denial-of-service attack, claimed by Anonymous.

The Government website went down around 9pm Saturday evening, and was intermittently accessible this morning, according to a report from the BBC.

An Anonymous Twitter feed said the attack was to protest the possible extradition of UK citizens to the US, dubbing it "Operation Trial at Home".

"OpTrialAtHome is offered in protest of the potential extradition of Gary McKinnon, Christopher Harold Tappin and Richard O'Dwyer," the tweet said, with another adding: "Selling your citizens to foreigner is not acceptable!"

The group said to expect more attacks "every Saturday" on Government sites.

McKinnon, who has Asperger's Syndrome, has been battling extradition to the US over a NASA hack for nine years, while 23-year-old O'Dwyer is accused of copyright violations for running the TV Shack website. Tappin is accused of exporting weapons materials to Iran.

In response to a question online, Anonymous stresed the attack wasn't a hack, but a "digital protest", held because Britons "want their Government to listen."

Ahead of the attack, a spokesperson for the Government agency said it was "aware of some reports that the Home Office website may be the subject of an online protest".

"We have put all potential measures in place and will be monitoring the situation very closely," the statement added, according to The Guardian.

The Anonymous feed also said it was targeting justice.gov.uk and number10.gov.uk.

Risky attack?

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant of security firm Sophos, noted previous attacks against the Government, notably the Serious Organised Crime Agency, have led to arrests.

"You have to admit that this is an audacious move by Anonymous and its supporters," he added in a blog post. "Other hacktivists who have launched DDoS attacks against websites belonging to British authorities have been arrested in recent history, and are currently facing trial."

"Don't forget, denial-of-service attacks are illegal," he warned. "If you participate in such an attack you could find yourself receiving a lengthy jail sentences."

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