Internal Affairs website down; no evidence of DoS attack so far

Speculation that Anonymous hacker group is to blame is premature, Department says

Update: the Department of Internal Affairs released the following statement this afternoon:

"Some Internal Affairs websites are still unavailable. The Department does not yet know what caused the problem, which it describes as very unusual. Internal Affairs sites have historically been very stable. There has been speculation that the loss of website service is linked to a particular threat publicised on some websites over Internal Affairs efforts to limit the international trade in images of child sexual abuse. “There are always threats and risks to websites. We have no reason to believe that the problem is linked to any particular threat, or even that it involves any hostile action at all,” said Deputy Chief Executive Stephen Crombie. “We are working to bring the sites back in a way that gives us maximum information about the problem, and we are working through to find the cause. Whatever the cause, the restored websites will be more resilient than they were, but no website is invulnerable and we cannot guarantee 100% availability in perpetuity.” The Internal Affairs internet filter is made available on a voluntary basis to Internet Service providers. It blocks access to sites which include images, videos or promotion of child sexual abuse. There is no proposal for the filter to become compulsory. The filter is aimed solely at reducing the trade in child sexual abuse material. During the time websites have been down, staff at the Internal Affairs Call Centre have fielded many more calls than usual. Because the systems within the Department have been largely unaffected, staff have been able to email people requested documents, or refer them to other sources. When people tried to access the affected sites, they were usually able to see information about other sources to get what they needed." (end of statement).

The Internal Affairs Department website is down, and while there has been speculation it may be due to a denial-of-service attack from the hacker group Anonymous, Internal Affairs spokesman Tony Wallace says there is no evidence so far to suggest that's the case.

"We don't know the cause yet.

"The cause will be determined, but the focus now is getting the sites back up and running," Wallace says.

The site has been down intermittently since Tuesday, but basic information such as phone numbers are still available, and data is in some cases being hosted on alternative websites.

Anonymous has posted a YouTube video claiming it will enact a series of coordinated denial of service attacks on the Department of Internal Affairs website until the DIA changes its policy on the internet filter.

A transcript of the video is posted on Youtube. It reads:

"In July 2009, it was reported that the Department of Internal Affairs had plans to introduce Internet filtering in New Zealand.

In March 2010 the Department of Internal Affairs has admitted that the filter is operational and is already being used, but refuses to disclose which Internet Service Providers are joining the filters.

February 2011

Internet censorship as seen in China, India, Australia, The United States as well as the united kingdom has become one of the greatest atrocities to free speech and government transparency since the cold war.

It is for this that we the people, must and will step forward to dismantle the Government's control over the internet.

On March 28th at approximately 5PM Eastern Standard Time, a series of coordinated denial of service attacks will be carried out on the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs website.

The attacks will continue until The Department of Internal Affairs vetos their own decision and releases the free flow of information to New Zealand."

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