British Government Facing Cyber Security Threat Due To Pro-WikiLeaks Attacks

The WikiLeaks scandal is showing no sign of slowing as groups increasingly target any detractors of the site. With Julian Assange’s court appearance, Whitehall is likely to be ramping up security measures – concerned that it will become the victim of the Anonymous group.

As with the attacks last week, which targeted payment processing sites, should the group strike it is likely to target the websites of Government bodies where an outage will cause the most disruption to online public services.

High profile organisations must focus on improving their website load capacity and bandwidth if they are to effectively defend against simple Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – as the ‘Anonymous’ hacking group vows to target further ‘key websites’.

The only form of defence is improvement, and high profile sites which have previously had an affiliation with WikiLeaks or its founder – as well as organisations that have become involved in the dispute like the UK Government – must assess and upgrade their load capacity if they want to avoid potentially damaging downtime.

DDoS attacks are very simple to execute but incredibly difficult to combat. No amount of firewalls or software can resist them. Large website load capacity is key in combating this threat. In this context, it is a particularly dangerous weapon, with amateur hackers able to download an application and launch an intense attack which could cause a website significant downtime – resulting in both financial and reputational damage.

I would advise organisations with any previous links to WikiLeaks to stringently load test their sites to ensure that they will not crash under heavy loads brought about by DDoS attacks.

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Rob Cotton has been chief executive officer of IT assurance specialist NCC Group since 2003, having joined the company as finance director and managing director of escrow in 2000. He steered the Group through its move to the London Stock Exchange's main market in July 2007 following admission to AIM in July 2004, and through a management buy-out in April 2003. As well as delivering consistent organic growth in revenue and profits, he has instigated and overseen a series of strategic expansion plans including the acquisition of complementary businesses worldwide. A qualified chartered accountant, he previously held a number of director and senior management positions in industry.