WikiLeaks: Hackers plot all-out cyber war with UK
Published 14/12/2010 | 05:00
BRITAIN is preparing for a crippling attack on government websites as evidence mounts that the backlash against the arrest of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is rapidly growing into a mass movement that aims to cause widespread disruption on the internet.
Extra security measures have been added to a host of government web services after Peter Ricketts, the national security adviser, warned government departments that 'hacktivists' who last week targeted the sites of companies such as MasterCard and PayPal could switch their focus to Britain.
British officials confirmed they were preparing for a court appearance today by Mr Assange, who remains in custody following his arrest on sex allegations at the request of Sweden, to be used by hackers as an excuse to switch their focus to key cyber infrastructure.
Members of the online collective Anonymous have already signalled their willingness to attack UK targets if Mr Assange -- who denies the claims -- is extradited to Sweden.
The ability of amorphous groups such as Anonymous to disrupt and paralyse websites was displayed again yesterday when hackers obtained the passwords of 1.3 million users of the gossip website Gawker and posted them online.
Amazon insisted yesterday that the disappearance of its European websites for about 30 minutes on Sunday was due to a "hardware failure" at its Dublin data centre. The company is one of those which had been threatened as part of Operation Payback, the attempt by Anonymous to mount attacks against companies which withdrew services from WikiLeaks. in the wake of its publication of US diplomatic cables
In an online posting yesterday, one Anonymous hacker said: "It is definitely an information war. The core principle behind it is: information is free, governments keep information to themselves, WikiLeaks releases it to the general public and the war occurs."
IT experts have warned that Whitehall is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks because many computers still run on an outdated version of Internet Explorer.
Rik Ferguson, a security researcher, said: "Electronic attacks are no different to attacks on physical infrastructure. They are designed to inconvenience and to disrupt, to have a financial impact to the victim and to anyone relying on that victim's services." (© Independent News Service)