Feeds

UK.gov braces for possible Wikileaks hacklash

Bail denial for Assange 'may spark DDoS attack'

Mobile application security vulnerability report

UK government websites are bracing themselves for an attack from Anonymous.

Failure to grant Julian Assange bail at a hearing due to take place on Tuesday could be enough to push pro-Wikileaks activists – who have already attacked Mastercard, Amazon, PayPal and Swedish prosecutors – into an assault on UK government systems.

Sir Peter Ricketts, the national security adviser, has warned government departments to be on their guard.

A spokesman for the prime minister confirmed the warnings and said concern was focused on sites run by Department for Work and Pensions, which holds personal information on benefits claimants, and HMRC, which holds taxpayer databases, The Telegraph reports.

Assange, who faces sexual assault charges in Sweden, was arrested last week and held on remand. Lawyers for the Wikileaks spokesman are due to present a second application for bail later on Tuesday.

If the application fails, activists from Anonymous may decide to attack UK government websites, the most obvious target being the Department of Justice. Even if the attack progresses towards flooding the websites of the DWP and HMRC with junk traffic, it's unlikely to do anything more than disrupt normal access for a few hours until a more deserving target is nominated.

Defending against DDoS attacks is not easy but fairly well understood. Having a distributed system helps, but the real key is filtering away useless junk traffic at the earliest opportunity, preferably deep into the back-end core of ISP systems.

Attack traffic generated by the LOIC site flooding tool favoured by Anonymous has a pattern which ought to allow systems to be tuned to discard it. One basic first step would be to restrict access to any targeted websites to the UK alone for the period of the attack.

As well as members of the loose-knit Anonymous collective downloading and using LOIC as a "voluntary botnet tool", there's evidence that some have access to botnets of already compromised PCs, which might be used to greatly increase the potency of any attack.

Whatever happens, we do hope politicians don't start describing any temporary disruption of government websites as an act of cyber-terrorism, or that the incident will end up being used to justify increased spending on government cyber-defence; but we fear we may end up disappointed on both counts. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.