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Agriboffins' site downed by DDoS after GM protest

Hactivists may have been linked to Anonymous

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Agricultural research institute Rothamsted Research was pulled offline in a DDoS attack just hours after police stopped protestors destroying a GM crop trial at the facility.

Rothamsted said that the site was down from Sunday afternoon until this morning after distributed denial of service attack.

The cyber-strike came after hundreds of protestors went to the agricultural research station in Hertfordshire to try to attack the facility's trial of genetically modified wheat. A large force of mounted police and foot patrols stopped the activists from ripping up the crop, one of the stated aims posted on the protest's website.

A couple of Twitter accounts apparently linked to hacktivist collective Anonymous, @AnonOpsLegion and @AnonOp_UK tweeted the typical claim for the attack - "Tango Down" - though Rothamsted isn't sure who was responsible.

"The timing of the attack and the information we have seen on Twitter would suggest this attack relates to an experiment being conducted at Rothamsted Research to test wheat which has been genetically modified to repel greenfly and blackfly pests as a sustainable alternative to spraying pesticides,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

"But this is not certain and could be coincidental… it is unclear who was responsible."

The agricultural analysts tweeted today that they had been the victim of a cyber attack and asked "whoever conducted this malicious attack [to] please respect our wish to give public-funded science information to the public".

The GM wheat study, which is just one of many experiments at Rothamsted, aims to figure out how to reduce the use of insecticides in wheat crops.

Other research at Rothamsted is trying to improve carbon capture by plants in the UK and designing and assessing ways of farming that would increase productivity without wrecking the environment. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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