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Swedish police link cyber attacks to Assange case

2 Oct 2012, 07:21

Published: 02 Oct 2012 07:21 GMT+02:00

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On Monday, a number of Swedish government agencies, banks, and media outlets – including The Local – had their websites crippled by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.

During a DDOS attack, a website is bombarded with communication requests so that the servers become overloaded and the site crashes.

According to Anders Ahlqvist, an IT expert with the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen), the attacks are clearly connected to efforts by Sweden to extradite Assange from the UK to be questioned in an ongoing sex crimes investigation.

"As long as that continues, we're probably going to see a lot of this," he told the TT news agency.

Monday's attack left the websites for Swedish banks SEB and Swedbank offline for extended periods around midday. Internet brokerage Nordnet was also affected.

Sweden's main news agency, TT, was also taken offline by Monday's attack.

The website of the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) was also hit.

According to Ahlqvist, police view Monday's cyber attack as following a pattern recognized from other attacks in recent weeks.

"Our impression is that they are testing security and gathering information about how resistant systems are and how quickly they can get back online if the attacks manage to knock them off," he told TT.

Ahlqvist added that police believe sites in Sweden are becoming increasingly popular targets for internet attacks.

Anders Hansson, head of the Computer Security Incident Response Team with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap – MSB), agreed.

"They are becoming more and more common and they are hard to protect against," he told TT.

Hansson confirmed that his agency had also been targeted in Monday's cyber attack.

He explained that it's still rare to see so many companies and agencies targeted in a single attack.

MSB is now trying to learn from where the attacks originated, although determining the source of and motivation for DDOS attacks remains a challenge.

Ahlqvist agreed that it's nearly impossible to find out who lies behind attacks like the one that hit Sweden on Monday unless those responsible decide to come forward.

Story continues below…

"The people that carry these out are technologically gifted," he said.

Meanwhile, police continue to gather as much information as they can. However, Ahlqvist emphasized that Swedish websites can likely expect more attacks as long as the Assange case remains unresolved.

"As the Assange case continues, we're going to see these [attacks] against Swedish targets. I'm totally convinced of it," he told TT.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

07:59 October 2, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Cyber attacks are the modern day version of minor acts of war, such as anarchists blowing up train tracks to disrupt governments.

Sweden has not deported Assange to the US, and has not said that it will do so.

Well and fine for Wikileaks supporters to pretend that nations are all terrorists, oppressing free people everywhere, but who are the terrorists now?
08:11 October 2, 2012 by timbenton51
@ #1

The terrorists - who actually kill people with bombs -- are still the terrorists. Hackers etc., who cause websites to crash are a nuissance, and possibly criminals, but they are not "terrorists".

Nice try.
09:16 October 2, 2012 by RobinHood
This eccentric, mismanaged and incompetent criminal investigation (it can not even be called a prosecution, Mr Assange is yet to be charged) has cost the British taxpayer one million Pounds in policing expenses alone. The bill rises by 11 000 Pounds per day. The hard-pressed British police and goverment are rather peeved with Sweden, to say the least.

Maybe it was them.
09:29 October 2, 2012 by byke
"Ahlqvist agreed that it's nearly impossible to find out who lies behind attacks like the one that hit Sweden on Monday unless those responsible decide to come forward."

Strange that with a case that shows no evidence and a statement of "Nearly impossible" - That the police have made such a brash statement in regards to "A clear connection".

If the Swedish police use such public statements which contradict the statement of "Nearly Impossible" and is used to smear a person without evidence, it really makes one question the value of law in Sweden and the professionalism of a system that uses the media to convict.
10:40 October 2, 2012 by procrustes
#5 YUK! Who saves condoms? Does she keep a little (or, in this case, maybe big) display case? I wonder if she plans on selling it on Blocket?
10:42 October 2, 2012 by vicarno
Soon more British public will start to question this waste of resources, and if the cyber attack continues, more Swedes will start shouting drop the case, drop the case. Well lets see how it plays out, but I dont see JA in Sweden any time soon.

Its very obvious the US wanted him through Sweden. Forget this rape, sex crime crap people...
18:05 October 2, 2012 by Tiny Red Ant
Actually, terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of particular political aims or to force a government to do something. Terrorism is the act to instill fear in others through acts intended to cause damage to property, cause bodily harm or the lose of life.

A nuisance? DOS attacks is a cyber crime and illegal. These are act of are intended to intimidation. However, DOS attacks are sometime accompanied by other crimes.

One thing in a little perplexing. Past DOS attacks against Swedish sites have been claimed to be in support of Julian Assange.

The purpose of the hearing was to ensure that Assange got "due process," and gave Assange "due process." Assange was even given "due process" is Sweden

before he left, and when his lawyers challenged the arrest warrant in Swedish courts. There is no reason for the UK should not ensure that Assange is extradited to Sweden.
12:40 October 3, 2012 by BigLucky
@ Reason abd Realism, and Tiny Red Ant

Actually, a DDOS attack is more like a protest picket-line or a sit-in. All a DDOS is really doing is occupying all the available bandwidth, or blocking all the available access ports. I suppose to a politician or a banker, who can make or buy legislation outlawing everything they dislike or that is contrary to their interests, the knowledge that someone in the public might actually be able to reach out and affect your life of privilege might be terrifying, but the fact that someone was sheltered from the consequences of their misdeeds until the internet came along does not make all actions they dislike "terrorism."

@Byke, and Arbed

I caught the inconsistency as well. "We know who it was and why they did it!" "We can't ever know who did it unless they come forward." Followed by the inevitable: "we need tough new laws, total lack of privacy, and broad unsupervised surveillance powers!"
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