The hacktivist group Anonymous staged a number of DDoS attacks on UK government websites yesterday in an apparent show of support for the controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains stuck inside his Ecuadorean embassy bolt-hole as he attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden.
Anonymous, who have been associated with numerous distributed denial of service attacks in the past, yesterday claimed to have taken down a number of high profile government sites in the UK, including the Justice Department website and “Number 10”, the official website of Britain’s prime minister.
In addition, it’s believed that the hacktivist collective was also responsible for taking down the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions website on the same day. The group later claimed through its @AnonIRC Twitter that the attacks were part of “#OpFreeAssange, in reference to the WiliLeaks founder that they have long supported.
The Ministry of Justice later confirmed the attack in the following statement:
“The Ministry of Justice website was the subject of an online attack last night at around 2000 hours. This is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected. Measures put in place to keep the website running mean that some visitors may be unable to access the site intermittently. We will continue to monitor the situation and will take measures accordingly.”
As of this morning, it appears that the Department of Work and Pensions site is now running normally, but the Ministry of Justice said that it’s still experiencing some problems with its website, and that it cannot give a time frame for when the problems might be solved. Number10.gov.uk also remains down, with no word from the government as to when it might be back.