Is UK government behind al-Qaeda website hacking?

Osama bin Laden

Lulzsec may have quit, but other, more politically motivated, hackers live on

BY Eliot Sefton LAST UPDATED AT 16:00 ON Thu 30 Jun 2011

Hackers have had a bad press recently, particularly in the US where members of the now-defunct LulzSec group are still being sought by the FBI. But the latest act of high-profile cyber-terrorism should earn them some respect – and the geeks responsible may well be British, or even British intelligence officers.
After attacks in recent weeks on Sony, Nintendo, Fox, PBS, the US Senate, the CIA and Soca (the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency), the latest victim is al-Qaeda.
According to internet security expert Evan Kohlmann, al-Qaeda's internet presence is crippled after attacks which began yesterday on its communications network and websites.
Kohlmann told MSNBC: "Al-Qaeda's online communications have been temporarily crippled, and it does not have a single trusted distribution channel available on the internet.
"My guess is that it will take them at least several days more to repair the damage and get their network up and functioning again."
Like the CIA last month, al-Qaeda has been subjected to repeated DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks – as well as other, more sophisticated sabotage. DDOS attacks essentially overload a website's servers by bombarding them with requests, making the site crash.
It's not the first time al-Qaeda and its affiliates have suffered cyber-violence. Earlier this month the terror network's how-to magazine was brought down by a hack which saw pages replaced with garbled instructions for making cupcakes.
According to the Daily Telegraph, which wouldn't or couldn't name its sources, that hack was carried out by British intelligence officers. Kohlmann claims the latest attack "once again appears to bear the telltale fingerprints of government-sponsored hackers".
Meanwhile, the FBI continues searching for the less-politically motivated LulzSec group, which announced at the weekend it was ending its 50-day sabotage spree.

A 29-year-old Iowa woman, Laurelai Bailey, was interviewed at her home last week by FBI agents. Her computers were confiscated but she was not charged. She told the media she had interviewed members of Lulzsec online but was not affiliated to them.
And on Monday, the Guardian reports, the FBI raided the house of an unidentified teenager in Hamilton, Ohio, apparently acting on information gleaned from UK suspect Ryan Cleary. · 

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