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Anonymous hacking group is alleged to have disrupted access to the UK Home Office website after an apparent cyber attack in protest against government surveillance plans.

A message on the Home Office website said the page was currently unavailable “due to a high volume of traffic”, suggesting a denial of service attack had been perpetrated.

A message on Twitter claiming to be from Anonymous, a loosely organized group of hackers who promote access to free speech, information and transparency, said the action was “for [the Home Office’s] draconian surveillance proposals”.

However, another message claimed it was over extradition rules from the UK to the U.S.

One tweet claiming to be from Anonymous said: “You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are aware of some reports that the Home Office website may be the subject of an online protest. We have put all potential measures in place and will be monitoring the situation very closely.”

Anonymous hacking group is alleged to have disrupted access to the UK Home Office website

Anonymous hacking group is alleged to have disrupted access to the UK Home Office website

The Home Office added that if a successful denial of service attempt did occur, it would “liaise with the technical team and update as necessary”.

A denial of service attack prevents a website from functioning properly, sometimes by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle. Such an action was believed to have been responsible for crashing the Home Office site.

The apparent attack came after it emerged last week that the British government was planning a massive expansion of its powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK.

Under legislation expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the government’s electronic “listening” agency – to examine “on demand” any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed, in “real time” without a warrant.

Ministers have faced a backlash over the plans, with senior MPs from both coalition parties, as well as civil liberties groups, lining up to denounce it.

Just days ago China felt the effects of Anonymous after the hacking group claimed it had brought down several government websites in a protest against the country’s internet restrictions.

The sites included government bureaus in several Chinese cities, including Chengdu, a provincial capital in southwest China.

In a message left on one of the sites the hackers said they did not agree with blocking information from the public.

Part of it read in English: “Dear Chinese government, you are in infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall.”

Included in the message were instructions for Chinese people on how to get around the restrictions imposed by their government.

Chinese officials block citizens from seeing social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and information on politically sensitive topics.


Hector Xavier Monsegur, the suspected leader of the hacking group LulzSec has pleaded guilty to carrying out high profile attacks on several companies while other members of the group have been arrested, US law enforcement official says.

Hector Xavier Monsegur had been charged with conspiracy to engage in computer hacking according to unsealed court papers filed in Manhattan.

The charges were filed via “a criminal information” and the suspect – nicknamed Sabu – had co-operated with the government, Reuters reported.

US law enforcement officers have said at least three members of the hacking group had been arrested.

Irish police added that they have arrested one of five men being sought in connection with the group and are holding him at a south Dublin police station.

Charges against other suspects are expected to be made public later.

Hector Xavier Monsegur, the suspected leader of the hacking group Lulzsec has pleaded guilty to carrying out high profile attacks on several companies while other members of the group have been arrested

Hector Xavier Monsegur, the suspected leader of the hacking group LulzSec has pleaded guilty to carrying out high profile attacks on several companies while other members of the group have been arrested


LulzSec, which is linked to the online activist group Anonymous, had claimed responsibility for attacks against eBay and Sony Pictures among others.

Last month Anonymous published a recording of a private telephone conversation between FBI agents and London detectives talking LulzSec suspects.

Fox News reported that one of Lulzsec’s leading members had helped the bureau gather evidence against his associates.

Fox quoted one FBI official as saying: “This is devastating to the organisation… we’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”

Prof. Alan Woodward, from the University of Surrey’s department of computing noted that LulzSec had been quiet since the middle of 2011 following an attack on Paypal.

“Judging by the level of activity this morning, where hackers have been pasting personal information about the person reported as having turned witness to implicate other hackers, it would appear that there is a considerable rift inside these groups,” he said.

“The hackers are certainly acting as if they feel they have been betrayed by one of their own.”


Anonymous, the hacking group, claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor.

According to one hacker, the Anonymous’ goal was to pilfer funds from individuals’ accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards.

Anonymous boasted of stealing Stratfor’s confidential client list, which includes entities ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force to the Miami Police Department, and mining it for more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.

Austin, Texas-based Stratfor provides political, economic and military analysis to help clients reduce risk, according to a description on its YouTube page.

The company charges subscribers for its reports and analysis, delivered through the web, emails and videos.

Stratfor’s main website was down, with a banner saying the “site is currently undergoing maintenance”.

Anonymous claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers belonging to clients of Stratfor

Anonymous claimed Sunday to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers belonging to clients of Stratfor

Proprietary information about the companies and government agencies that subscribe to Stratfor’s newsletters did not appear to be at any significant risk, however, with the main threat posed to individual employees who had subscribed.

“Not so private and secret anymore?” Anonymous taunted in a message on Twitter, promising that the attack on Stratfor was just the beginning of a Christmas-inspired assault on a long list of targets.

Anonymous said the client list it had already posted was a small slice of the 200 gigabytes worth of plunder it stole from Stratfor and promised more leaks.

The hacking group said it was able to get the credit card details in part because Stratfor didn’t bother encrypting them – an easy-to-avoid blunder which, if true, would be a major embarrassment for any security-related company.

According to Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president of intelligence, the company had reported the intrusion to law enforcement and was working with them on the investigation.

“Stratfor has protections in place meant to prevent such attacks,” he said.

“But I think the hackers live in this kind of world where once they fixate on you or try to attack you it’s extraordinarily difficult to defend against.”

Hours after publishing what it claimed was Stratfor’s client list, Anonymous tweeted a link to encrypted files online with names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and credit card account details.

“Not as many as you expected? Worry not, fellow pirates and robin hoods. These are just the <<A’s>>,” read a message posted online that encouraged readers to download a file of the hacked information.

The attack is “just another in a massive string of breaches we’ve seen this year and in years past,” said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer of Application Security Inc., a New York-based provider of database security software.

Still, companies that shared secret information with Stratfor in order to obtain threat assessments might worry that the information is among the 200 gigabytes of data that Anonymous claims to have stolen, Josh Shaul said.

“If an attacker is walking away with that much email, there might be some very juicy bits of information that they have,” he added.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, public affairs officer for the Air Force, said that “for obvious reasons” the Air Force doesn’t discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats or responses to them.

“The Air Force will continue to monitor the situation and, as always, take appropriate action as necessary to protect Air Force networks and information,” John Dorrian said in an email.

Miami Police Department spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz Jr. said that he could not confirm that the agency was a client of Stratfor, and he said he had not received any information about a security breach involving the police department.

Anonymous also linked to images online that it suggested were receipts for charitable donations made by the group manipulating the credit card data it stole.

“Thank you! Defense Intelligence Agency,” read the text above one image that appeared to show a transaction summary indicating that an agency employee’s information was used to donate $250 to a non-profit.

One receipt – to the American Red Cross – had Allen Barr’s name on it.

Allen Barr from Austin, Texas, recently retired from the Texas Department of Banking and said he discovered last Friday that a total of $700 had been spent from his account.

The man, who has spent more than a decade dealing with cybercrime at banks, said five transactions were made in total.

“It was all charities, the Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children. So when the credit card company called my wife she wasn’t sure whether I was just donating,” said Allen Barr, who wasn’t aware until a reporter with the AP called that his information had been compromised when Stratfor’s computers were hacked.

“It made me feel terrible. It made my wife feel terrible. We had to close the account.”

Wishing everyone a “Merry LulzXMas” – a nod to its spinoff hacking group Lulz Security – Anonymous also posted a link on Twitter to a site containing the email, phone number and credit number of a U.S. Homeland Security employee.

The employee, Cody Sultenfuss, said he had no warning before his details were posted.

“They took money I did not have,” Cody Sultenfuss told The Associated Press in a series of emails, which did not specify the amount taken.

“I think <<Why me?>> I am not rich.”

But the breach doesn’t necessarily pose a risk to owners of the credit cards. A card user who suspects fraudulent activity on his or her card can contact the credit card company to dispute the charge.

Stratfor said in an email to members that it had suspended its servers and email after learning that its website had been hacked.

“We have reason to believe that the names of our corporate subscribers have been posted on other web sites,” said the email, signed by Stratfor Chief Executive George Friedman and passed on to AP by subscribers.

“We are diligently investigating the extent to which subscriber information may have been obtained.”

“Stratfor’s relationship with its members and, in particular, the confidentiality of their subscriber information, are very important to Stratfor and me,” George Friedman wrote.

One member of the hacking group, who uses the handle AnonymousAbu on Twitter, claimed that more than 90,000 credit cards from law enforcement, the intelligence community and journalists – “corporate/exec accounts of people like Fox News” – had been hacked and used to “steal a million dollars” and make donations.

It was impossible to verify where credit card details were used. Fox News was not on the excerpted list of Stratfor members posted online, but other media organizations including MSNBC and Al-Jazeera English appeared in the file.

Anonymous warned it has “enough targets lined up to extend the fun fun fun of LulzXmas through the entire next week”.

Anonymous has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on credit card companies Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., eBay Inc.’s PayPal, as well as other groups in the music industry and the Church of Scientology.