Anonymous Kills Downing Street, Home Office Sites

Dennis Faas's picture

The international hacking group Anonymous has targeted the British government with a recent string of attacks. As a result, websites for both the United Kingdom's Home Office and for Downing Street were disabled.

Anonymous, which is a loose collective of hackers from locations around the world, has become quite renowned in recent years. 

Members of the group, who call themselves "hacktivists" rather than straight-up hackers, have targeted credit card companies, copyright protection agencies, and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

They prefer the term "hacktivists" because their hacking is motivated more by a political agenda than by the more common interest in choosing targets primarily to obtain a financial benefit.

Attacks in Protest of Hacker Extradition

It would appear Anonymous' most recent attack on the UK government is in response to Britain's recent decision to extradite three computer hackers accused of targeting various law enforcement agencies.

The hackers -- Gary Mackinnon, Richard O'Dwyer, and Christopher Tappin -- have all been sent to the United States to stand trial for their alleged crimes.

To protest their extradition, Anonymous launched a "distributed denial-of-service attack" on the UK Home Office website. 

This form of attack uses thousands of hijacked computers to overload the target site with requests for data. The huge number of requests overwhelmed the site's servers, which effectively became unavailable to serve legitimate users.

Supporters Recruited to Aid in the Attacks

Anonymous reached out to a growing body of supporters for help in these recent attacks, using Twitter to encourage its fans to "fire your Laz0rs" by visiting the Home Office site. 

Not long after, Anonymous again used Twitter to report "Tango Down" -- hacker code words for: mission accomplished. (Source:

As a result of these attacks, the Home Office website was inaccessible from 9pm Saturday evening until early Sunday morning.

Shortly after taking down the Home Office site, Anonymous and its supporters successfully knocked out the Downing Street website. However, government representatives insist the blackout lasted only a few minutes. (Source:

One reason these attacks appear purely political is that there is no indication they led to any theft of secure information.

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