It has come to light that both the MI5 and MI6 websites were recently attacked in a mainstream action, by the hacking group Anonymous, in the name of OpFreeAssange.

During the attack both websites were down for approximately an hour. The fact that the group successfully attacked the British Intelligence Agency, who would have been on alert for any possible breaches and would clearly have measures available to help prevent such incidents, suggests that few websites can stop an attack. It seems that the group continues to be motivated and its approaches continue to evolve, as confirmed by an Anonymous spokesperson, who told TechWeek Europe that they had “Found [a] way to circumvent the government’s new security” and that they were “testing different methods”.

The attacks are a reminder that as we move further in to the digital age, there will be increased ability for cyber criminals to wreak havoc on critical infrastructure and sensitive information. Only time can tell what long term damage this may cause. The action is are now part of an increasing number of government sites in the United Kingdom and Sweden which have been the focus of attacks by Anonymous. The group has attacked in protest against the treatment of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Assange is currently still in the Ecuador embassy in London, in a bid to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden, which he fears will then lead to extradition to the USA, to face potential treason charges, and, he suggests, execution.

Following the latest attacks it will be interesting to see what is next for Anonymous, and also whether government and military agencies will aim to do more to prevent further cyber attacks. With Anonymous continuing to exploit various agencies and businesses, the attacks on MI5 and MI6 should serve as a stark warning. If even the mighty MI5 and M16 cannot stop them then what hope is there for the rest of us?