ICO website taken down by Anonymous DDoS attack

The hacking group has repeatedly urged followers to attack the data protection watchdog's website.

Hacker

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has confirmed that it's still dealing with the fallout from a suspected Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on its website.

In a statement sent to IT Pro, the data watchdog said access to the site has been disrupted over the last several days because of the attack.

"The website itself has not been damaged, but people have been unable to access it. We provide a public facing website which contains no sensitive information," the statement said.

"We regret this disruption to our service and we are working to bring the website back online as soon as possible."

At the time of writing, the site was still offline.

Notorious hacking group, Anonymous, has repeatedly urged its Twitter followers to besiege the ICO's site since 12 May.

The tweets, which were published by the @UKAnonymous2012 account, claim the attack is part of a protest by the group at the handling of the Leveson Inquiry, which is currently looking into the behaviour of the UK press.

Incidentally, the Leveson Inquiry's website has also been the target of DDoS attacks by Anonymous this week.

In a blog post, dated yesterday, the group described the inquiry as a "farce" and a "show trial".

"Instead of having a criminal court whereby investigations are conducted to unearth the scale of the crime, this show trial has been arranged so that there is no real investigation," said the post.

"Why? Because Government and judiciary with the media have conspired to create a process outside of the court's jurisdiction to avoid anyone being held accountable for the crimes committed by the parties."

The post then goes on to criticise the ICO for lacking independence and failing to protect the public from data protection breaches.

"Eighty per cent of data protection breaches in the UK are committed by the UK civil service and [are] not properly investigated," the blog claimed.

"There is zero commitment by all our regulators to protect UK citizens from data protection breaches."

Andr Stewart, president international at vendor Corero Network Security, said the ICO attack is proof that government organisations need better protection from cyber criminals.

"DDoS attacks are becoming a regular occurrence against government websites. In fact, any organisation that relies on the Internet to conduct business is a potential target," said Stewart.

"And these highly public DDoS attacks are increasingly being used as a diversion or smokescreen to launch more surreptitious attacks aimed at stealing data or sensitive information."

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