The decentralized community of hacktivists known as “Anonymous” knocked the website of the UK Copyright Service offline on Thursday.
The copyright protection agency, known internationally as Copyright Witness, was targeted by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack as part of an online campaign named “Operation Payback.”
DDoS attacks flood websites with meaningless web traffic to slow them down and can sometimes knock websites offline entirely.
UK Copyright Service supports international copyright protection by providing independent evidence of originality and ownership in the event of any claims or disputes.
Using a piece of old server stress-testing software called “Low Orbit Ion Cannon” (or “LOIC,” a name taken from PC strategy game Command and Conquer), participants in “Operation Payback” point their Internet connections at a server and begin sending requests. If enough people join in, the servers can ultimately be overwhelmed by traffic, resulting in a denial of service to other users.
“Operation Payback” has targeted the websites of a number of governments, including Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Yemen and Italy. In December 2010, those participating in the operation were successful in taking down Visa, Mastercard and other websites of organizations that refused to do business with secrets outlet WikiLeaks.
The chief technology officer of the data security firm HBGary, Greg Hoglund, described “Anonymous” as a small group of criminal hackers and “pseudo-journalists” in an interview on Tuesday. His company’s website was defaced by “Anonymous” in February after former CEO Aaron Barr told the Financial Times that he’d identified the “core leaders” of the group and had information that could lead to their arrest.
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