The Information Commissioner’s Office website has collapsed, triggering fears that the site may be under siege from a so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, a method employed by hackers to overwhelm sites with traffic from multiple sources.
Earlier this morning, the site carried the message: “We are currently experiencing an unprecedented number of visitors to our website. The website is currently unavailable and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We are doing all we can to mitigate this, however the number of visitors and activity on the site has exceeded all expectations. ”
But this has since been replaced with a message which states: “Our website is currently unavailable and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. Our website hosts are working to restore the service as soon as possible.”
In February, the ICO was among thousands of organisations which had their websites hacked in a bid to force visitors’ computers to run malicious software that mines a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin.
Meanwhile back in 2012, the site suffered a major hack attack – unleashed by a group claimed to be linked to the Anonymous collective – amid claims the regulator did not do enough to protect consumer data. On this occasion, the site was down for three days.
One industry source said: “This carries all the hallmarks of a DDoS attack. It is highly unlikely that there will be high traffic on a Wednesday morning in August. It just goes to show that, no matter how robust your systems, nearly all websites are vulnerable.”
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