A group callings itself @Dadsecurity claims it was responsible for the cyber and swatting attacks on the Mumsnet site
Internet trolls have targeted the founder of the Mumsnet website launching a so-called ‘Swatting attack’, which resulted in armed police being called to her home.
Justine Roberts, who set up the hugely influential parenting forum in 2000, claimed the site had to be temporarily shut down last week after a group calling itself @DadSecurity unleashed a cyberattack which overloaded its server.
But then in a more sinister twist she said those responsible had made a malicious report to the Metropolitan Police, claiming an armed man had been seen prowling outside her home.
As a result she claimed an armed police unit was scrambled to her address in the early hours of August 12.
She alleged that the same thing had also happened to another Mumsnet user in which police were told gunshots had been fired at her home.
Swatting attacks have become common in the United States, and take their name from the militarised Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units called to deal with armed incidents.
The Metropolitan Police said it was unable to provide details of the resources deployed in the incidents, but Ms Roberts, who is married to the Newsnight editor, Ian Katz, said it had left those on the receiving end “shaken up”.
The group that claimed responsibility for the cyberattack used the Twitter account @DadSecurity, to brag about its actions, but the user has since been suspended.
Describing what happened Ms Roberts wrote on the Mumsnet site: “On the night of Tuesday 11 August, Mumsnet came under attack from what’s known as a denial of service (DDoS) attack.
“Our servers were bombarded with requests, which required our Internet service provider to massively increase server capacity to cope.
“We were able to restore the site at 10am on Wednesday 12 August. Meanwhile a Twitter account, @DadSecurity, claimed responsibility, saying in various tweets, ‘Now is the start of something wonderful’, ‘RIP Mumsnet’, ‘Nothing will be normal anymore’ and ‘Our DDoS attacks are keeping you offline’.”
But she said later that night they appeared to have taken one step further by making a malicious call to the police.
She wrote: “An armed response team turned up at my house last week in the middle of the night, after reports of a gunman prowling around.”
She explained that another Mumsnet user who challenged @DadSecurity on Twitter was warned to ‘prepare to be swatted by the best’ in a tweet that included a picture of a SWAT team.
Ms Roberts wrote: “Police arrived at her house late at night following a report of gunshots. Needless to say, she and her young family were pretty shaken up.
“It’s worth saying that we don’t believe these addresses were gained directly from any Mumsnet hack, as we don’t collect addresses. The police are investigating both instances.”
Mumsnet is currently reviewing its online security and is asking all users to change their passwords in order to reduce the risk of any other hacks.
Mumsnet has come in from criticism in the past from father’s groups, including Fathers4Justice, which claim it has an “anti-male agenda”.
In 2012 Fathers4Justice launched a campaign which included a naked protest at companies that advertised with the website.