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NCA site offline, Lizard Squad claims responsibility

Lizard Squad, a notorious hacking group, claimed responsibility for the takedown of the National Crime Agency (NCA) website.

According to multiple media reports being published on Tuesday, the attack is a response for Operation Vivarium, which saw six people, allegedly part of the group, arrested.

The hacking group tweeted "Stressed out?" on Tuesday morning (1 September), together with a link to the NCA website. The tweet was accompanied by a picture of the group's Twitter picture of a Lizard in a top hat with a pipe in its mouth.

The NCA stressed its site was taken offline by a "DDOS" - or Distributed Denial Of Service attack - which it said did not present a security risk.

A spokesman said to The Telegraph: "The NCA website is an attractive target. Attacks on it are a fact of life. DDOS is a blunt form of attack which takes volume and not skill. It isn't a security breach, and it doesn't affect our operational capability. At worst it is a temporary inconvenience to users of our website.”

"We have a duty to balance the value of keeping our website accessible with the cost of doing so, especially in the face of a threat which can scale up endlessly. The measures we have in place at present mean that our site is generally up and running again within 30 minutes, though occasionally it can take longer. We think that's proportionate."

Lizard Squad are a notorious hacking group, known for their attacks on the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live.

Industry reaction

Wieland Alge, VP and GM, EMEA at Barracuda Networks:

"The digital world has become an increasingly hostile environment. The more organisations that rely on it, the more we see a shift in criminal activities towards digital methods.

"Unfortunately some organisations still think they have time to wait until they become a target or they believe they can weather the storm. Organisations need to be prepared. Whoever does not wear a raincoat AND have an umbrella to hand these days will get wet."

Dave Larson, CTO at Corero Network Security:

"The recent reports indicating that the National Crime Agency website has been taken offline by DDoS attack, seemingly by the increasingly popular DDoS-for-hire site, Lizard Stresser is a classic example of cyber-warfare taking aim in retaliation of the recent arrests of individuals associated with the service.

"DDoS attacks can be a nuisance, cause temporary or long term service disruptions, and take down IT security infrastructure in any organisation. What is even more distributing is the potential for even greater damage in the form of smokescreen diversions allowing hackers to run additional attacks aimed at breaching sensitive data and further impacting operations.

"DDoS mitigation strategies must be viewed as more than just protecting your website, it is protecting the business, your intellectual property and your customers."

David Fisk, EMEA Sales Director at Quorum:

“Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks pose the question of how can companies quickly recover from technical glitches? The National Crime Agency (NCA) site was down for two hours after it was hacked and they have measures in place which generally means their site is up and running again within 30 minutes. An organisation of this size has multiple redundant systems and a huge amount of experience in business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR). Yet the fact remains disasters such as this will occur.

"Today’s IT leaders need to be on guard for even the most modest threats to their infrastructure. The reality is that neither humans nor computers are infallible and IT glitches will happen so it's about contingency planning and minimising the impact this will have on the company.

"Companies need to be able to minimise the amount of damage during a time of crisis and a strong business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plan go a long way in helping to do this. Organisations have struggled with DR because traditional methods are either too complicated or too costly to implement and manage except for the largest companies.

"However, by adopting emerging technologies such as DR as a service (DRaaS) organisations can ensure their IT staff are trained and ready to instantly recover operations and keep their business viable."

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.