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Anonymous has attacked several British Government websites in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In the attack titled #OpFreeAssange, Anonymous took down both the site of the Ministry of Justice as well as the site of the Department for Work and Pensions with the message ‘Tango Down http://www.dwp.gov.uk/ & http://www.justice.gov.uk #Assange’ posted by the #AnonymousIRC account.
Assange was granted Asylum by the Ecuadorian government earlier last week, following over two months of waiting within the Ecuadorian embassy after he broke his bail conditions and stayed there overnight. As a result, Assange has been unable to leave the embassy for fear of being arrested.
However, the British government warned that it could still enter the embassy despite the diplomatic immunity he has and arrest Assange. While the British Government have yet to follow through on this threat fully and arrest Assange, they have not seen fit to withdraw it either. The police did enter the embassy two days ago and although they did not arrest Assange, this act could have been the Government showing they will enter and arrest him should they choose to.
Addressing the public keeping watch outside the embassy Assange, said in a speech on Tuesday “Inside this embassy after dark I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape, but I knew there would be witnesses and that’s because of you.”
While it is not clear whether Anonymous’ members appear to be carrying out their attacks just for fun or as a way of causing disruption, they do have loosely agreed goals that they attempt to achieve. The main factor prompting Anonymous to launch an attack is any attempt from government’s to curtail people’s freedom of speech or rights especially concerning censorship of the internet.
This can be seen in their defence of several pirating websites, as well as their involvement in the Occupy movement. Therefore it is easy to see just why they have leapt to the defence of Assange. After all, Assange’s website is devoted to bringing news to the public, and like Anonymous, has received condemnation for its methods of obtaining data.
The attack, which also apparently targeted the Prime Ministers No 10 and home office websites, was done using Anonymous’ standard method of DDOSing. DDOSing stands for distributed denial of server, and involves a multitude of computers bombarding a website with requests for information. If successful, the server will be unable to handle the huge amount of information received by the various attackers, and as a result is forced to shut down and stop processing information for the site being attacked.
This type of attack is illegal in both the U.S. and U.K., with laws in place to prevent them from taking place. These laws seem to have done little to prevent people from taking part in the attacks, which have become vastly more popular in recent years.
They are so effective that governments may have started using them. Demonoid, one of the world’s largest torrent websites, was DDOSed and hacked three weeks ago, just days before the Ukranian government raided Demonoid’s servers. This attack was either a huge coincidence or a carefully constructed plan by the Ukranian authorities, turning the attackers’ main weapon against them.