The UK's Royal Family website, “royal.uk,” was just down for an hour and a half in an apparent DDOS attack.
A Russian hacker group has claimed responsibility, although this has yet to be confirmed.
It's right after King Charles III gave a speech in the French Senate Chamber in which he voiced support for Ukraine in its ongoing international conflict with Russia — fuelling speculation that the royal website's cyber attack is a retaliation from hackers in support of Russia.
What We Know About the DDOS Attack
Any DDoS attack — that's “distributed denial-of-service” — works by overwhelming a server or network with far more internet traffic than the infrastructure is designed to handle. As a result, the valid, non-malicious traffic is unable to get through, leaving the service unable to function.
According to reports, the attackers were unable to gain any access to the royal website itself, even though they did bring it down for an hour and a half, as well as leave it loading very slowly for the rest of the day.
At the time of writing, the website has an additional security precaution up, forcing all visitors to confirm that they are human by checking a box before they can reach the website.
The Hackers Claiming Responsibility: “KillNet”
The KillNet group has said that they are behind the DDoS attack.
This “Russia-aligned hacktivist group” first gained attention in the first month of the Russian-Ukraine conflict for a “widespread—although relatively unsophisticated—campaign of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, political rhetoric, and misinformation,” according to the Blackberry security team.
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The royal website's outage certainly seems in keeping with the KillNet MO of headline-nabbing “nuisance-level DDoS attacks.”
DDoS attacks and Russian Hackers
Granted, you and your business are likely safe from this particular type of DDoS attack, assuming you are not the monarch of a country and haven't weighed in on international conflicts in the recent past.
But that said, DDoS attacks and Russian hacking groups have both been big problems for the tech industry across 2023. We covered a Russian hacking group's phishing attacks on Microsoft 365 users last August, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here's how we discussed Microsoft's run-ins with disaster at the time:
“A few weeks ago, Microsoft dealt with a China-linked hacking group known as Storm-0558, which gained access to Outlook email accounts. That same month, a new tool from the US Navy exposed a security flaw that exploited incoming file restraints within Microsoft Teams. That was shortly after Microsoft issued a denial in response to a group that claimed to have 30 million stolen customer records following a DDoS attack on the tech giant.”
In just the first half of 2023, cybercriminals launched around 7.9 million DDoS attacks, and the rise of state actors like Russia-linked groups is one big reason why this type of threat is such a problem today.
Measures for staying safe might include boosting router security and frequently changing passwords on all internet-connected devices.