Britain’s National Crime Agency was the victim of a cyberattack Tuesday that briefly knocked its website offline days after police in the U.K. arrested six individuals accused of using software to wage similar assaults.
The NCA said Tuesday morning that it was suffering from technical difficulties brought on by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, an elementary method of flooding a website with a barrage of illegitimate traffic in hopes of forcing a target to buckle under the load.
On Twitter, the NCA called the DDoS a “fairly standard cyberattack” and said hackers hadn’t managed to do any damage other than temporarily render the site unavailable to visitors.
“The NCA website is an attractive target. Attacks on it are a fact of life,” a spokesman for the agency told The Guardian on Tuesday. The NCA’s website has since been restored.
Four days earlier, the NCA announced the arrest of six teenagers alleged to have used a DDoS tool called the “Lizard Stresser.” Authorities said the custom software was advertised as being able to take down targeted sites for upwards of eight hours at a time for a small fee and had been deployed against a major newspaper, a school, gaming companies and several online retailers, among other targets.
A social media account associated with Lizard Squad, the hacking group that released the DDoS tool last year, all but claimed responsibility for taking down the NCA’s website on Tuesday with an early morning tweet.
“Stressed out?” the @LizardLands account posted on Twitter alongside a link to the NCA.gov and “#offline.”
The website where the Lizard Stresser DDoS software was previously hosted now directs visitors to the LizardLands account.
“New weapon coming soon,” the account tweeted on Tuesday after the NCA site was restored.
According to the NCA, 30 percent of U.K. businesses claim they suffered a DDoS attack in the last year. In announcing the half-dozen arrests last week, British authorities said they planned on visiting the homes of around 50 people believed to have downloaded the Lizard Stresser tool but hadn’t actually deployed it.
“One of our key priorities is to engage with those on the fringes of cyber criminality, to help them understand the consequences of cyber crime and how they can channel their abilities into productive and lucrative legitimate careers,” Tony Adams, the head of investigations at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said last week.
“UK internet police are the biggest jokes,” the LizardLands account posted on Twitter in response the arrests. “Because of these raids, we’re tempted to just setup a free version of Lizard Stresser to piss them off.”