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UK Hackers Take Down Russian Embassy Site

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DDoS attack protests David Cameron’s visit to Russia, while the killer of Alexander Litvinenko is free

The website of the Russian Embassy in London was knocked offline on Sunday by UK-based protestors objecting to a visit to Russia by the British prime minister, David Cameron.

The Russian Embassy site was brought down by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in protest at the first trip to Russia by a British leader since the 2006 killing in London of Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko.

Russia refuses extradition

When former spy Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210, Russia refused to extradite the prime suspect, Andrei Lugovoy, an ex-KGB bodyguard who is now a member of the Russian parliament, the Duma.

The incident soured British-Russian relations, but they have thawed since Dmitry Medvedev became Russian president and David Cameron became British prime minister (both pictured here).

The site was first attacked on Friday evening, and was down for much of the weekend, according to a Reuters report, with a mirror site being set up for a time at www.russemborguk.ru.

Politically motivated DDoS attacks have become more frequent of late, with the sites of the Yemeni and Egyptian governments targeted during a burst of online skirmishing during the Arab Spring earlier this year. Meanwhile North Korea has mounted attacks on South Korean sites.

More sophisticated cyber-warfare events have been exposed, such as attacks by China, but the relatively blunt instrument of the DDoS can be effective in the hands of comparatively unskilled attackers, leading to fears that governments may not be able to withstand such attacks.