Govt websites could face WikiLeaks revenge attack

UK security advisor warns PM of dangers

The UK's national security advisor has warned that government websites used to upload tax returns or claims benefits are at risk of attack from hackers who support WikiLeaks.

Sir Peter Ricketts believes government websites will come under fire from the Anonymous group if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is extradited to Sweden. Assange, who was arrested in London last week, is wanted in Sweden on one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape. Ricketts has warned the Prime Minister today about the risk, and the websites that face the biggest threat.

"The priority would be websites that dealt with information that belonged to members of the public such as the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] and HMRC [Revenues and Customs]," a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron revealed.

A group of online activists, known as Anonymous, has already launched DDoS attacks against a number of firms that revealed they were not supporting WikiLeaks, which recently began publishing a cache of more than 250,000 sensitive cables from the US Department of State. These included Mastercard, Visa and PayPal, which all stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

Last week, an American internet activist who previously worked with the hackers told The Telegraph that UK government websites could be the next target.

"They will go after the weakest links, because they want to see results. They will probably test a few sites and then decide," said Gregg Housh.

See also: WikiLeaks: China pressured Google on internet censorship

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Tags wikileakspaypalvisaInternet & broadbandPC securityDesktop securityDepartment for Work and Pensions

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Carrie-Ann Skinner

Computerworld UK
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