Websites of the Canadian government have found themselves at the mercy of the online activist group Anonymous, who shut down access to its services for three hours on Wednesday 17 June as part of an online protest.
Using a denial of distribution service (DDoS) attack, all access to the government’s websites ceased at 12pm ET, while IT teams worked to try and stop the flood of requests. Service returned shortly before 3pm ET.
According to CTV News in Canada, the websites affected included many of the more common web portals – Weather.gc.ca, ServiceCanada.gc.ca and Parl.gc.ca – but some of the more restricted websites that would have been more prepared for an attack, such as those relating to the military, were not affected.
Speaking in the aftermath of the attack, Canada’s Treasury Board president, Tony Clement, confirmed it was a deliberate cyber-attack: “I’ve just been through a briefing on it. There has been an attack on Government of Canada servers. We are working very diligently to restore services and to find out the origination of the attack.”
However, not long after the attack, a person claiming to be a member of the cyber-activist group Anonymous posted a video and Twitter message taking responsibility for the attack, which they said was orchestrated because of the government’s recent anti-terrorism act, C-51, passing.
CP24 No data has been seized. This was a 3-hour cyber protest. #STOPC51
— SplendidMass29 (@blakeando10) June 17, 2015
The legislation, passed in the Canadian House of Commons, enables the government to expand its reach during investigations into those it believes to be behind potential terrorist plots, and has been criticised by some groups for giving the government too much power to invade people’s privacy.
“We launched an attack against Canadian Senate and Government of Canada websites in protest against the recent passing of Bill C-51.”
A Twitter user called SplendidMass29 said no harm was done in relation to personal data, which was later confirmed by Canada’s public safety minister, Steven Blaney.
Canadian House of Commons image via Shutterstock