National security advisor fears for government websites in Wikileaks fall-out

The UK government's national security advisor has warned that government websites could be the next target of pro-Wikileaks hackers, it was reported.

Sir Peter Ricketts has warned civil servants that websites run by HM Revenue & Customs, for instance, could come under attack, the BBC reported.

A spokesperson for the UK prime minister told a press briefing that Sir Peter had spoken to permanent secretaries about the security of government websites in light of pro-Wikileaks attacks.

"The priority would be websites that dealt with information that belonged to members of the public such as the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) and HMRC," the BBC reported him saying.

Attacks from the Anonymous group of hacktivists have so far concentrated on firms perceived to be anti-Wikileaks, following the release of confidential diplomatic cables.

PayPal, Mastercard and Visa have all been targeted with denial of services attacks, designed to try and crash their websites. They were targeted after they cut financial services to Wikileaks following the fall-out from the leaking of the diplomatic cables.

Brief website outages at Mastercard and Visa last week have been linked in the media to the denial of service attacks.

Although Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was this week granted bail by a London court, he is back in prison following an appeal by the Swedish government, which wants his extradition to face questioning on alleged crimes not related to Wikileaks.

The fact that Assange is in a UK prison could trigger UK government website attacks, it is speculated. However, the hackers haven't so far targeted any government websites.

Assange supporters fear he could be extradited from Sweden by the US government, which is considering spying charges against him as a result of the leaked cables.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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