Hackers target council websites in Assange freedom campaign

07 May 2019

Hackers claimed to have taken two council websites offline as part of a campaign to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The websites for Barnsley Council and Bedale Town Council were targeted on April 16th.

Barnsley Council said its site was restored by 11:30am and that the National Cyber Security Centre had been alerted. Bedale council said it was unaware of a website issue.Tweets from hacking groups the Philippine Cyber Eagles and Anonymous Espana claimed responsibility.

Assange had been taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London until his arrest seven-years-later on April 11th.

Barnsley Council said it had experienced a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS), which it explained was where a hacker overwhelms a website making it unusable for regular users.“Having initially believed the issue was not related to a cyber-attack, while investigating the issue it became clear that the amount of traffic hitting the council website was massively above normal levels,” a spokesman said. “No customer data has been lost, stolen or accessed by the attack against the council’s website and the council remained fully in control of the situation.”

A tweet from the group CyberGhost404, which linked to the crashed Barnsley Council website, said: “Free Assange or chaos is coming for you!”

That account claimed it belonged to the founder of the Philippine Cyber Eagles.A tweet from the account Anonymous Espana included an image that suggested the group had access to the council’s files and was threatening to leak them.