Three UK government websites - belonging to the Home Office, Downing Street and the Ministry of Justice - were attacked by the hacker collective Anonymous late Saturday night in protest of extradition of British citizens to the United States and of a proposed law to broaden the snooping powers of the government.
The hacktivists disrupted traffic at three sites -- homeoffice.gov.uk (Home Office), number10.gov.uk (Prime Minister's Office) and justice.gov.uk (Ministry of Justice) -- through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
DDoS attacks take a website offline by flooding it with more traffic than it can handle.
All the government sites appeared to be functioning normally on Sunday morning.
Anonymous also identified the personal website of Home Secretary Theresa May as a target and mounted an assault on the site for the U.S. House of Representatives. The attack on May's site never materialized and the one on Congress was rebuffed, according to The Independent.
The attacks were part of what Anonymous is calling Operation Trial at Home, a protest against the extradition to the United States of two British nationals, Richard O'Dwyer and Christopher Tappin, and proposed extradition of a third, Gary McKinnon.
Legal Proposal Raises Ire
It has also been reported that the attacks were additionally motivated by hacktivist anger at a proposed law unveiled a week ago by the British government that would allow it to conduct some trials in secret and allow authorities to track the phone calls, emails, text messages and online activity of everyone in the country.
This latest action by Anonymous was described by one security expert as audacious, especially in light of recent efforts by global law enforcement agencies to crackdown on the group's cyber protests.
"You have to admit that this is an audacious move by Anonymous and its supporters," wrote Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluely. "Other hacktivists who have launched DDoS attacks against websites belonging to British authorities have been arrested in recent history, and are currently facing trial."