Home Office confirms 'Anonymous' attack on websites

 

A group of computer hackers claimed responsibility for what appeared to be a denial of service attack last night, which left users unable to fully access the department's homepage for several hours.

A message on the site said the page was unavailable “due to a high volume of traffic”.

One message on Twitter claiming to be from Anonymous, a loosely organised group of hackers, said the action was “for your draconian surveillance proposals”, while another said it was in protest at the UK's controversial extradition treaty with America.

It read: “You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial.”

Another tweet claiming to be from members said the action had been taken in “protest of the potential extradition of Gary McKinnon, Christopher Harold Tappin & Richard O'Dwyer.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said tonight: “The Home Office website was the subject of on online protest last night.

“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.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and take measures accordingly.”

There were also claims on Twitter that Anonymous had disrupted the websites of the Ministry of Justice and Number 10.

One message said: “£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.”

All three Government websites were fully operational today however.

A later Anonymous tweet read: “Why TANGO DOWN the UK govt? Proposed draconian surveillance measures in combination with continued derogation of civil liberties.”

A denial of service attack prevents a website from functioning properly, sometimes by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle.

The cyber protest came after it emerged last week that the Government was planning a massive expansion of its powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK.

Under legislation expected in next month's Queen's Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ - the Government's electronic “listening” agency - to examine “on demand” any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed, in “real time” without a warrant.

The Government has faced strong opposition to the plans, with senior Conservatives joining Liberal Democrats and civil rights campaigners in warning they would cause a gross intrusion into freedom and privacy.

Lib Dem president Tim Farron vowed the party would “kill” proposals for increased monitoring of emails and internet use if they were not watered down.

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show he was prepared to look at draft legislation, dubbed a “snoopers charter”, when it is published but warned he was “in no mood” to back “authoritarian” laws.

He said many Lib Dems were “horrified” by the plans.

But Home Secretary Theresa May defended the proposals, telling the Sunday Telegraph: “I would hope that we will be able to do this in a Bill in the next session, but in a way that enables people to have a sight of the clauses.”

Meanwhile, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has called for an overhaul of the controversial extradition arrangements between the UK and the United States to restore “public faith”.

Many critics believe it is easier to extradite a British citizen to the USA than vice-versa.

Retired British businessman and all-Kent Golf Club Union president Tappin, 65, is being held in jail in New Mexico while he awaits trial on arms dealing charges after being extradited last month.

Student Richard O'Dwyer, 23, of Chesterfield, is also fighting extradition after being accused of breaking American copyright laws by using his computer in the UK.

And Asperger's sufferer Gary McKinnon, 46, from Wood Green, north London, is still waiting to hear whether he will be extradited over charges he hacked into US military computers 10 years ago.

Anonymous, whose genesis can be traced back to a popular US image messaging board, has become increasingly politicised amid a global clampdown on music piracy and the international controversy over the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, with which many of its supporters identify.

Authorities in Europe, North America and elsewhere have made dozens of arrests, and Anonymous has increasingly attacked law enforcement, military and intelligence-linked targets in retaliation.

One of Anonymous's most spectacular coups was secretly recording a conference call between US and British cyber-investigators tasked with bringing the group to justice.

The collective has no real membership structure, with hackers, activists, and supporters able to claim allegiance to its freewheeling principles at their convenience.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?