Ireland was the latest national target for the Anonymous group after the Irish equivalent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was announced.
Tweeting from the ‘Your Anon News' account, the hacktivist group said "Ireland has angered the hive, we will be reporting all attacks through this account". This was followed by distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks on the Irish Department of Justice and Department of Finance that took the sites offline for a short time.
In a statement to the Irish Times, the Department of Justice confirmed the website was attacked, and said: “This is not an attempt to extract information from the website but is instead an attempt to stop access to a service. There appears to be no damage done to the website.
“The government is aware of the potential threat of this type of cyber attack and the Department of Communications is co-ordinating a whole-of-government response to this threat.”
An online petition against the proposed law has gained almost 30,000 signatures, and calls on the Irish government to abandon the proposed enactment of ‘S.I. No. of 2011 European Communities (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2011'. It claimed that this legislation subverts the democratic process, favours the special interests of corporations over the rights of individual citizens, will destroy the largest growth sector in the Irish economy and will subject the citizens of Ireland to unwarranted and unintended censorship.
This was specifically directed to Seán Sherlock, minister of state for enterprise, who apparently intends to publish an order this month that will effectively amend the state's copyright legislation.
Brian Honan, security consultant and head of Ireland's computer security incident response team (IRISS-CERT), said ‘#OpIreland' is in protest against a law the Irish government is planning to introduce to allow copyright holders access to blocked websites that they claim are hosting pirated material.
He said: “According to TheJournal.ie, the websites of the Department of Justice and Finance have been impacted by the attack. From watching various updates on Twitter, other government websites seem to be also impacted, but as yet it is not clear whether or not this is a direct result of the OpIreland attack or if these sites share or are hosted on the same infrastructure as the targeted sites.
“It also appears the mobile phone numbers and email addresses of all the TDs have been published, information that was publicly available in the first place anyway. While these attacks appear to have happened at an unusual time, midnight on a Tuesday, and have had minimal impact on the general population, they could simply be a ‘warning shot' from Anonymous highlighting the campaign has started.”
He predicted that attacks may intensify over the coming days, especially as more people are recruited into the operation.
“Many will see this as a way to draw government's attention to the concerns many have with the proposed new law. However, I believe that this action will simply divert the attention of the media and elected officials away from the core issue at heart and focus instead on Ireland being subjected to these attacks,” he said.