Hot on the heels of a host of attacks on government websites in protest of Internet piracy and censorship bills worldwide, Anonymous is now claiming responsibility for taking down several Irish government websites. According to The Journal, the websites of the Departments of Justice and Finance went down overnight, along with several other minor departments.
The Irish Department of Justice went down at around 11:20 PM (GMT) last night, after suffering from a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service, for the uninitiated) organized by Twitter accounts claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous. It returned to operation within a few minutes, but went down again 11:40 and stayed down for nearly 2 hours.
A few minutes later, the Department of Finance website went down, returning to operation around the same time as the Department of Justice. Several smaller sites, including Freedom of Information unit, which runs on the same servers as the Department of Finance, followed a site related to human trafficking.
A Twitter account connected to the Swedish Anonymous ominously warned that the attacks were coordinated at a time when traffic to the websites was relatively low, but that they were only a 'wake up - warning shot.'
The attacks come in opposition to legislation that's being called the 'Irish SOPA,' due to its striking similarity with the US bill. The copyright reforms were introduced by the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Sean Sherlock, who insists that it is just an affirmation of existing Irish law. A petition against it has already collected 31,000 signatures.
The legislation would give the Irish government the right to take down and block access to websites accused of copyright infringement. As with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), critics fear that it cold be misused as a tool for censorship, or to punish websites for the actions of a single user.
Anonymous, a (extremely) loose affiliation of hacktivists, has been extremely active over the last few days, bringing down government websites worldwide, including the US Department of Justice, and is currently claiming to be preparing a massive campaign in protest of the international anti-piracy trade agreement ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).
Thanks to Neowin member xirtam for the tip.