Anonymous launches attacks on UK government websites

Notorious hacktivist collective Anonymous struck a blow to the British government’s online infrastructure yesterday, bringing down the Ministry of Justice’s official site in a spate of attacks.

The rebel group is claiming responsibility for the crashing of justice.gov.uk which went offline for a period on Monday, as the hackers retaliated against Whitehall’s handling of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who continues to take refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

A number of government websites were targeted, including that of the Home Office, as one Anonymous-related Twitter account warned yesterday, “Target [Locked On]: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk...”

Later, a separate account announced the successful taking down of the justice site with the tweet, “#OpFreeAssange: TANGO DOWN! http://www.justice.gov.uk/ [500 Internal Server Error] [#Anonymous #WikiLeaks]”

A spokeswoman from the ministry admitted the site was experiencing problems yesterday but played down the damage of the attack, telling The Independent, "This is a public information website and no sensitive data is held on it. No other Ministry of Justice systems have been affected."

Hackers associated with Anonymous have a history of compromising government networks online, typically through Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. This year alone, the group has successfully hacked the emails of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sites belonging to the US government, correspondence between members of the Tunisian regime, web pages of the Australian government, and the UK Home Office website, amongst others.

Earlier this month, the organisation was decidedly unhappy with the attempts of a French company to hijack its logo. "Anonymous will not be the whore of the world," a member said.