August 10: The notorious hacking group Anonymous crippled a computer server at the domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and claimed the agency’s website would be unavailable for the rest of the day.
An Australian arm of the loose-knit hacking group Anonymous announced its attack via its Twitter account shortly after 10am today. “Server http://www.asio.gov.au has been down for some time now, And will be for the rest of the day!” the account stated.
ASIO’s website was down for at least half an hour this morning and now either works, loads slowly or doesn’t work at all. The spy agency said in a statement that it was “aware that there may have been some technical issues” with its site, adding that it did “not host any classified information [on it] and any disruption would not represent a risk to ASIO’s business”.
Over the past week Anonymous’ Australian Twitter account has been boasting it will attack the ASIO website and that of Defence Signals Directorate. “The anonymous Operation Australia hackers have today again been busy with further attacks on the ASIO and DSD website,” Anonymous Australia wrote on Wednesday.
A number of other distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and website defacements have been levelled at some 10 government agencies in the past month. The group also recently took data and customer records belonging to business telco AAPT from a data centre and published it on a website. Anonymous conducted the attack because it wanted to to highlight the dangers of a proposal to force telcos to store every Australian’s web history for up to two years. Today’s attack was done in protest of the proposal too.
The Privacy Commissioner launched an investigation into the AAPT leak earlier this week. It comes as Fairfax Media reported today that the federal government had put the web spy proposal on the back burner, delaying it until after the next federal election.
An Anonymous user in an internet relay chat, believed to be where the hackers have been co-ordinating the attacks on Australian websites, said the attack on ASIO’s site would cease at 10pm today. They claimed a “minor victory” after the web spy proposal was put on the back-burner by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, saying Roxon “didn’t want the attention leading up to the election.”
“Attacks may ease up,” they said, “[but] I cannot say no more attacks will continue.
“We will continue to watch the situation. The operation had only just started really.
“[There] was a lot more heat to bring if she didn’t back down.
“But [we] will continue to keep an eye on the Australian government.”
Roxon has previously urged interested parties to avoid “hysteria” and contribute to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry instead. But the Anonymous group member said hysteria was needed.
“Sometimes you need a bit of organised hysteria to get a reaction with an apathetic public,” the anonymous group member said, earlier linking Fairfax Media to GetUp’s campaign against the proposed reforms to Australia’s laws.
They added that they wanted an explanation as to why Australia was pushing for restrictive copyright measures in the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty which could, as tech site iTnews reported, “severely restrict copyright limitations and exceptions” in Australia.