The online computer-hacking collective Anonymous claimed the credit for coordinated attacks on the website last Saturday, causing intermittent service from 9pm until the early hours of Sunday morning.
An account registered to the group on social networking site Twitter threatened this week: “Expect a DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] every Saturday on the UK Government sites”.
A distributed denial-of-service attack involves users repeatedly accessing a particular part of a website, bombarding it with visits until the website cannot continue to function. It does not allow people to access sensitive information.
A Home Office spokesperson said that “the Home Office website was targeted by protesters on Saturday night, resulting in intermittent interruption to the service.”
She added that “we had measures in place to protect the site, which is now running normally. The site was not hacked and no other Home Office systems were affected.”
One of the Twitter accounts affiliated with the group suggested the attacks were motivated by the extradition of UK citizens such as Gary McKinnon to the United States. Earlier this week, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the legal right of the UK to continue extraditions.
Another Twitter account linked to the group suggested that there may be attacks on GCHQ – the government’s cyber-security service – motivated by proposals for the government to instruct internet service providers to monitor email exchanges and internet search histories.
Interview: Andrew Nelson