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Assange supporters linked to Yorkshire councils hack

Julian Assange

Hackers campaigning to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are claiming to have taken two Yorkshire council websites offline.

The websites for Barnsley Council and Bedale Town Council were targeted on Tuesday morning. Barnsley Council said its site was restored by 11:30am and the National Cyber Security Centre was alerted. Bedale council said it was unaware of a website issue.

Tweets from hacking groups the Philippine Cyber Eagles and Anonymous Espana claimed responsibility. Barnsley Council said it had experienced a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS), which it explains as where “a hacker overwhelms a website making it unusable for regular users”.

A spokesman said: “We became aware of the issue at approximately 08:40. Having initially believed the issue was not related to a cyber-attack, while investigating the issue it became clear that the amount of traffic hitting the council website was massively above normal levels.

“No customer data has been lost, stolen or accessed by the attack against the council’s website and the council remained fully in control of the situation.”

A tweet from the group CyberGhost404, which linked to the crashed Barnsley Council website, said: “Free Assange or chaos is coming for you!” The account claims to belong to the founder of a hacking group known as the Philippine Cyber Eagles.

A tweet from the account Anonymous Espana included an image suggesting the group had access to the council’s files and was threatening to leak them. Assange is currently being detained at Belmarsh prison after being arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy in London on 11 April.

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