UK police avert hack attempt on Royal Wedding website

A plot to bring down the Royal wedding website during the day's proceedings were met by London's police force. But who could have been behind such an attempt?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Scotland Yard's said on Tuesday that its cybercrime division helped counter an attack to the official website of the Britain's Royal wedding in April, during the proceedings where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tied the knot.

Det. Supt. Charlie McMurdie told a London cyber-security conference that preventative measures were enacted to protect and safeguard the website, which had one of the highest traffic of all UK websites in the history of the web, from a denial-of-service attack that could have brought the website down.

Who was behind the attempted hack? Iranian dissidents who remain furious with Western intervention? The hacking collective LulzSec or hacktivist network Anonymous, responsible for a series of high-profile hacks and leaks? Dare I say it, the Chinese government?

Close. Well, not really. It was a 16-year-old teenager.

N'awwr. Source: Flickr, CC)

The comments were made at the Royal United Services Institute, a defence policy think tank. But when asked for more information by the Associated Press, she said that the cybercrime division had been "called in" by the government to deal with an attack.

Though no further details were given about the attack, a Scotland Yard spokesperson, home of London's police force, said that the 16-year-old "had been detained" on October 10th in relation to a "suspected attempt to encourage others to commit a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack".

The Royal wedding was watched by an estimated 2 billion people worldwide, and viewed by just shy of half the British population -- with an estimated half a million flocking to the BBC's website to watch the feed.

YouTube partnered with the Royal Channel on the Google-owned video-sharing site to offer a feed on the official Royal wedding website, which stayed steady throughout the day. Many of the websites offering feeds, including the BBC and YouTube struggled at times to balance the load of the vast number of people visiting the sites, with some intermittent downtime during the proceedings.

The official Royal wedding website said that during the peak of the ceremony, it was handling over 2,000 requests a second.

The website, owned by Clarence House, the main London residence of the heir-apparent Charles, Prince of Wales, which makes the site a UK government property.

The teenager is currently out on bail and has yet to be charged with an offence, the spokesperson said.


Editorial standards