Hackers against the Islamic State or ISIS have claimed that the BBC website downtime during New Year’s Eve was their DDoS attack, but with no bad intentions.
BBC websites were down for several hours during the evening before January 1, 2016. A company source inside BBC admitted that there was a distributed denial of service attack that took the websites down.
Now, anti-ISIS hacker group named as New World Hacking is claiming that they were the reason why the BBC websites were unavailable for a quite long duration. However, they did not hack the website to cripple its capability to disseminate news and such.
New World Hacking said that they were just testing their capabilities on BBC’s servers. They did not intend to take the site down for hours.
“Let me get you proof of our records really quick, our motive was simply because we can. It was almost exactly a 600 GBps attack. We used two nodes to attack with and a few extra dedicated servers. It was only a test, we didn’t exactly plan to take it down for multiple hours. Our servers are quite strong,” the group told Rory Cellan-Jones from BBC via Twitter.
DDoS Attacks In A Nutshell
For the uninitiated, a DDoS attacks does not really involve a direct “hack” or penetration of a database, but it could be used as a cover. What happened was that the BBC websites experienced a massive flow of web traffic that came from the hacker group.
The websites were not able to keep up with the continued barrage of web traffic, resulting it into shutting down. There are different types of DDoS attacks that can be carried out.
Some of the attacks directly flood the websites with more traffic than it can handle. Some send only fragments of data packets, which usually leads to the server piecing it back together instead of catering to their legit site visitors.
In order to conduct a successful DDoS attack, hackers usually use a wide network of computers known as botnets. These botnets may consist of their own computers or compromised ones across the globe using their own malware.
Attack Only A Test, Not Malicious
New World Hacking said that they are based in the United States and that they are determined to take down any ISIS affiliated sites and online accounts. Anonymous has previously declared a cyber-war against ISIS as they continuously help in taking down online propaganda and recruitment sites.
BBC’s press office refused to comment on the hacker group’s claim. They also did not confirm nor deny if the DDoS attack was the cause of the website’s temporary downtime.
“We realise sometimes what we do is not always the right choice, but without cyber hackers… who is there to fight off online terrorists? The reason we really targeted [the] BBC is because we wanted to see our actual server power,” the group told BBC.
One person named Ownz from the hacker group said that they were only a team of 12 people. Eight of them were male and four of them were female. Ownz claims that New World Hacking was formed in 2012.
Hacker groups are not new, but only a handful of them have actual good intentions. With ISIS trying to recruit followers and jihadists online, these hackers have stepped up to try and stop them from doing so.
Some Internet users are cheering them on, while some have questioned their methods and capabilities. At the core, all the soldier deployed across the globe are considered heroes and not the hackers.
New World Hacking Campaigns
New World Hacking claims that they have already done their part in making the world a better and safer place. They took part in the #OpParis effort in order to help determine the identities of IS affiliated accounts after the terrible Paris attack tragedy in November 2015. Ownz also said that they took part in a campaign against the Ku Klux Klan.
Ownz said that they are using a hacking tool named Bangstresser. They claim that they have already used the tool against several IS websites.
Bangstresser was said to be developed by another U.S.-based hacker activist. New World Hacking tried out the tool against the BBC websites along with several of their personal computer servers and possibly botnets.
Ownz told the BBC that they are planning to attack a new list of ISIS targets online. It is unclear which sites they are referring to, but they were not disclosed in order to help protect the integrity and effectiveness of their campaign.
BBC Websites And Services Downtime
BBC websites started to be down at around 7 PM on Thursday. Instead of the website interface, they were greeted with an error.
In addition to the websites, their iPlayer Radio app and iPlayer catch-up service were also down. The iPlayer app was recently launched for the Apple TV App Store in December 2015.
Twitter (NASDAQ: TWTR) users replied to the BBC Press Office’s announcement that they were aware of the “technical issue.” Some have said suggested that they should try turning their servers off and on again.
Some have also taken the news in a lighter tone, saying that the HR department should be blamed for insisting the unused leaves be used before 2015 ended. Others took the chance to mock BBC, saying that they shouldn’t rush because they know BBC is telling the truth when they are silent.
Other users have also asked if it was DDoS attack, but no replies were given by BBC. Some users have also reported that the BBC Bitesize and BBC Food recipes were down as well.
BBC websites started to be back online at around 10:30 PM. However, some of the websites took longer than usual to load. All of the services and websites functioned normally several hours more after.
New World Hacking did not say why they chose the BBC services and websites as a test target for their attacks. However, one possible reason is to demonstrate the scale and power of their attacks by attacking one of the most known broadcasting corporations in the world.