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Campaign group suspects govt involvement in ‘massive’ cyber attack

Avaaz says an ongoing attack could be retaliation for human rights campaigns

By Steve Evans

The website of campaign group Avaaz is under a sustained Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, possibly launched by a government or large organisation.

The organisation has campaigned against a range of issues, from the actions of the Syrian and Chinese governments to oil companies, organised crime and even Rupert Murdoch.

In a statement posted on its website, Avaaz said it suspected one of its targets was behind the attack. "Right now, the Avaaz website is under massive attack," it said. "An expert is telling us that an attack this large is likely coming from a government or large corporation, with massive, simultaneous and sophisticated assaults from across the world to take down our site."

"We were expecting this. Our people-powered campaigning has been fearless, and we’ve taken on the world’s worst actors head-on."

The statement added that the attack had been going on for over 36 hours and was affecting the organisation’s ability to conducts its business. The site’s robust security has ensured that it remains live, Avaaz said.

The statement concluded by appealing for donations to help keep the website running.

It has long been suggested that nation states have been orchestrating online attacks. It has been claimed that the Stuxnet Trojan which targeted Iran’s nuclear installations was so sophisticated it had to have had government backing during its development.

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Google has also suggested the Chinese government was involved in "meddling" with its Gmail platform using phishing attacks aimed at Chinese dissidents.

Hacktivists have hit a number of government websites over the last few years, with the FBI, the US Senate and the CIA all targeted.

CBR’s recent in-depth feature on hacking, Hacktivism: Doing it for the lulz?, is available here.

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