The hacktivist group Anonymous today hacked multiple U.K. government websites over the country's "draconian surveillance proposals" and "derogation of civil rights." At the time of writing, the following websites are down: homeoffice.gov.uk (Home Office), number10.gov.uk (10 Downing Street - British Prime Minister's Office), and justice.gov.uk (Ministry of Justice).
This appears to be a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack with multiple targets. This means Anonymous is simply overloading the servers with more connections than they can handle, bringing the websites down, rather than stealing data. Then again, as we saw with the DDoS attacks against the Vatican, the group is perfectly capable of putting in a backdoor to make life easier when it wants to take the site down a second time.
Anonymous is angry with the U.K. government for wanting to monitor all Web and phone traffic. For more information, check out my colleague Zack Whittaker's article: UK's 'Patriot Act' Web monitoring law could face European veto. The hackers say the move is also to show they do not support extradition from the U.K. to the U.S., such as in the cases of Gary McKinnon, Richard O'Dwyer, and Christopher Tappin.
The following tweets are from Anon_Central, which has 120,000 followers, describing the attack:
#OpTrialAtHome -- Target: http://www.HomeOffice.gov.uk | ETA: 7 MINS! Charge your laz0rs and aim! #Anonymous #UK #OpTrialAtHome -- Target: http://www.HomeOffice.gov.uk | Fire! Fire!! Fire!!! Fire!!!! Soundtrack- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKTpWi5itOM #Anonymous #UK Pew Pew Pew #OpTrialAtHome : Tango Down: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk | Keep Firing!!!! Keep it down! Make them hear you! #Anonymous #UK #OpTrialAtHome: Added Tango Down: http://www.number10.gov.uk - #PrimeMinister's website | #Anonymous #UK #OpTrialAtHome -- Target: http://www.HomeOffice.gov.uk | Keep #Firing!!! Keep it down! Make your voice heard! #Anonymous #UK #OpTrialAtHome: Don't switch targets! Keep #Firing at: http://www.HomeOffice.gov.uk | #UK We have backup for http://www.number10.gov.uk #Anonymous #OpTrialAtHome: #Anonymous attacks #UK Prime Minister and Home Office #websites with #DDoS http://bit.ly/IdwnEp | #OpTrialAtHome: Added Tango Down: Ministry of Justice - http://www.justice.gov.uk | #UK v @On3iroi #UK | Keep firing! #Anonymous #Anonymous launched a cyberattack on http://www.number10.gov.uk, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk & http://www.justice.gov.uk resulting in multiple TANGO DOWNS.
After the attack was deemed a success, tweets detailing why the U.K. government was targeted started rolling in:
@SPCoulson its a digital #protest which is different than hacking. #UK want their #government to listen. We can do it as long as it takes! #OpTrialAtHome, because selling your citizens to foreigner is not acceptable! We are #Anonymous, We do not forget, We do not forgive. #UK #OpTrialAtHome is offered in protest of the potential extradition of Gary McKinnon, Christopher Harold Tappin & Richard O'Dwyer. #Anonymous
Meanwhile, the YourAnonNews Twitter account, which has 564,000 followers, had this to say:
TANGO DOWN - http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ (via @AnonymouSpoon) For your draconian surveillance proposals! Told you to #ExpectUs! #ANONYMOUS #AnonUK TANGO DOWN #2: http://bit.ly/bMmT1i (via @AnonymouSpoon) For the draconian suveillance proposals and derogation of civil rights #ANONYMOUS RECAP: In the past HOUR, #Anonymous launched a cyberattack on http://number10.gov.uk/ & http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ resulting in multiple TANGO DOWNS. TANGO DOWN #3: http://justice.gov.uk for continued derogation of civil liberties (va @OperationLeakS) #ANONYMOUS #DidYouExpectUsYet? #AnonUK How many admins do you think just had their Easters ruined? #AnonUK #Anonymous
The attacks against the U.K. government today closely follow attacks against hundreds of Chinese government, company, and other general websites over the last week. Those attacks are still ongoing.
- Anonymous hacks hundreds of Chinese government sites
- China admits Anonymous hacks
- Anonymous hacks Panda Security in response to LulzSec arrests
- Anonymous hacks Vatican again
- Anonymous releases an OS?
- Anonymous is not taking down the Internet
- Hacktivists stole 100 million records in 2011