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
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?