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The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) website has been taken offline following a cyber-attack. It has suffered a DDos (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.

DDos attacks main aim is to make the website inaccessible.  Often the attackers use networks of compromised computer that they control to launch the attacks.  Attackers will overwhelm the target site with requests therefore genuine visitors cannot reach the site. Often these requests appear as genuine web traffic making it more difficult to filter out.

A spokesman said the site was taken offline at 22:30 on Wednesday, but that the attack did not “pose a security risk to the organisation”. Soca would not confirm if it knew the source of the attack or the motive behind it. Soca was keen to point out that its website contains only publicly available information and does not provide access to operational material; therefore the attack posed little or no security risk.

Last month, Soca was part of a joint effort with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to shut websites associated with selling stolen financial information. They also recently shut down 36 websites believed to be selling stolen credit card information.

Security expert Rik Ferguson, from Trend Micro, said that while DDoS attacks could be prevented for many sites, including Soca, the cost often cannot be justified.

“Is it worth the expense of large-scale DDoS mitigation technologies? Probably not,” he said.

“Does it harm the Soca brand to be seen to do nothing or very little to stop these attacks from happening? Again, probably not – Soca are treating the attacks with the contempt they deserve.”

“The sensible person doesn’t walk around in a beekeeper’s outfit to keep the wasps away from their ice cream in summer. The sensible person accepts that wasps are attracted to ice cream and that wasps will always outnumber ice creams.”

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