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UPDATE Anonymous DDoS Attack Knocks the Virgin Media UK Site Offline

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 (7:53 am) - Score 2,099

The website of UK cable operator Virgin Media looks to have been targeted by the Anonymous activist group, which has launched a serious Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack against the provider. The move is believed to be in retaliation after the ISP responded to a court order (here) that required it to block broadband customers from accessing The Pirate Bay piracy site.

A DDoS attack works by effectively overloading a target server, such as that of a website, with masses of data requests from multiple internet connected computers. It’s understood that the attack resulted in Virgin Media’s website being taken offline for at least an hour yesterday, yet we note that it appears to be similarly slow and unstable this morning (at the time of writing we still can’t access it).

The problems follow last month’s High Court of Justice ruling, which imposed a court order demanding Sky Broadband, Everything Everywhere (Orange UK and T-Mobile), TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media to block the The Pirate Bay. A similar ruling was made against BT during February 2012 (here) and the ISPs have since been given until Friday 11th May 2012 to impose it (BT apparently has a little longer).

Virgin Medias April 2012 Statement

We’ve recently been issued with a court order that requires us to take steps to block access to the Pirate Bay website as it has been deemed to be infringing copyright. We alongside other ISPs in the UK are now legally obliged to block access to this site.

As a responsible ISP, we comply with court orders addressed to our company but we strongly believe that changing consumer behaviour to tackle copyright infringement also needs compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, to give consumers access to great content at the right price.

Virgin Media, which officially began blocking The Pirate Bay on 2nd May 2012, has since confirmed that its site was indeed hit by a DDoS attack yesterday. Oddly the ISP claims that the site wasn’t taken offline by the attack itself: “Our website has been the subject of denial of service attacks so we’ve taken the site offline for a short period of time“. Sadly the site still appears to be suffering from problems this morning.

A tweet by the related activist group confirmed yesterday’s action: “#Anonymous have just taken down #VirginMedia website again because of their involvement in the #Censorship of The Pirate Bay #TPB #OpTPB“.

UPDATE 12:50pm

In an interesting twist The Pirate Bay has issued a statement condemning the attack on Virgin Media’s website.

The Pirate Bay Statement

Seems like some random Anonymous groups have run a DDOS campaign against Virgin media and some other sites. We’d like to be clear about our view on this.

We do NOT encourage these actions. We believe in the open and free internets, where anyone can express their views. Even if we strongly disagree with them and even if they hate us. So don’t fight them using their ugly methods. DDOS and blocks are both forms of censorship.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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