MI5 And MI6 Websites Attacked By Assange Protesters

Both the MI5 and MI6 websites were down for around an hour this morning, as Anonymous UK claimed hits on the two intelligence organisations in protest at the treatment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Sis.gov.uk and MI5.gov.uk were being hit throughout the morning, and were inaccessible for periods between 9am and 11.30am. Anonymous claimed it took the sites offline with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as part of #OpFreeAssange, protesting the UK government’s decision to prevent Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from enjoying asylum in Ecuador.

Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over claims of sexual assault, but has been granted asylum in Ecuador, as he fears he will be extradited to the US if sent to Sweden. He is currently stuck in the South American country’s embassy in London because the UK police would arrest him if he leaves.

Assange action

Anonymous groups have hit various government-related websites in protest at the UK’s position. Anonymous UK claimed to have downed the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions in August. MP Peter Hain, who says he is actually against Assange’s extradition, had his website defaced, although there was some dispute over whether the hackers were genuine Anonymous members.

An Anonymous spokesperson told TechWeekEurope today the online protests were simply there to supplement the action outside the embassy, where Assange’s supporters have gathered, many in Anonymous masks.

“We have a ground force – as in street protest – then the hackers and DDoS crew for online stuff,” the spokesperson said. “It might not help like all protests, but gives us a voice via the web and what we are unhappy about.

“We have found way to circumvent the government’s new security and we are testing different methods.”

The Cabinet Office confirmed the sites had been taken down by a DDoS. “The sites were not hacked,” a spokesperson said. “As public facing sites, no personal or sensitive information is held on them.

“We treat threats of disruption to government websites very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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