Anti-Islamic State cyber hackers, New World News, have taken responsibility for taking down the BBC website on New Year’s Eve. Reportedly, this was a test of their capabilities and strengths and they didn’t intend the attack to last for three hours.
Both the BBC website and their iPlayer app were down for around three hours Thursday after a deliberate and sudden surge in Internet traffic. This was believed to be a distributed denial of service (or DDoS) attack by cyber hackers.
Reportedly from around 7:26 a.m., anyone attempting to browse the BBC website or the iPlayer app was met with error messages, including “Error 500 – Internal Error.” Some BBC programs failed to load correctly, and others were completely locked out.
According to the Guardian, since then, hacking group New World News have admitted they were behind the DDoS attack, saying they wished to test their own capabilities and strengths, but the cyber hackers said they didn’t know the crash would last so long.
It seems, however, they were surprised that their cyber attack hit the media.
New World News sent a message to BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, which he then shared on Twitter, saying it was only a test and the hackers didn’t mean to take the website down for so many hours, but saying without cyber hackers, who else can fight online terrorists?
‘We realize sometimes what we do is not always the right choice, but without cyber hackers… who is there to fight off online terrorists?”
Although the BBC reportedly cannot verify or prove the cyber hackers’ claims, BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam described it as “quite a serious claim to make.” Lynam went on to say the hackers’ ultimate goal, “believe it or not,” is not to attack the British news service, but to go after ISIS and all their servers, to prevent the terrorists from spreading propaganda via various websites.
“What this group does is to take down various different websites it believes to be criminal and leading to terrorist acts.”
He continued by saying, as with most cyber hackers, New World News then posts the website they have taken down with a DDoS attack with the hashtag “tangodown” or “takenddown.”
Lynam went on to stress that the BBC has no evidence, but that the hacking group has claimed responsibility for the DDoS on their website and claims their ultimate goal is to take down ISIS related websites.
Initially, it was thought cyber hackers based in China or Russian had been behind the DDoS attack, with one BBC source telling the Times, “It was a denial of service attack to crash down our sites.”
“We don’t yet know from where, but usually these attacks are launched from places such as Russia or China.”
The source continued that the BBC is a target, and that a lot of places in the world do not like “independent and impartial journalism.”
The Times also mentioned that many Twitter users joked that the downing of the BBC site meant the apocalypse must have finally arrived.
While, according to Reuters, the BBC has said it will not comment on the claims by the New World News hackers, one BBC executive admitted on Thursday that its websites were regularly targeted by similar cyber attacks but that — unlike the more powerful DDoS by the New World News hackers — they were normally repelled.
In the meantime, New World News are reportedly attacking the Donald J. Trump email servers, so it seems it is not just ISIS the cyber hackers are going after.