Anonymous hackers claim to have crashed Justice Department website

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A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed the agency's website was experiencing problems and said officials were investigating the cause.  

“The Department of Justice web server hosting justice.gov is currently experiencing a significant increase in activity, resulting in a degradation in service," the spokeswoman said. "The Department is working to ensure the website is available while we investigate the origins of this activity, which is being treated as a malicious act until we can fully identify the root cause of the disruption.”

Minutes later, Anonymous claimed to have crashed the websites of Universal Music, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which are some of the most vocal proponents of tougher copyright enforcement laws.

All of the sites were down, as of Thursday evening.

Anonymous claimed it crashed Copyright.gov, but the site seemed to be loading normally. They said FBI.gov would be "next," but the site was not yet having any problems.

The group claimed that the coordinated attack was its "largest ever."

Prosecutors seized Megaupload.com on Thursday and charged seven of its employees with criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit racketeering and other charges.

The crackdown came just one day after thousands of websites, including Google and Wikipedia, staged an unprecedented protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act, which would expand the power of law enforcement and copyright holders to go after infringing websites.

"Let's just say, for SOPA supporters their SOPAblackout is today," Anonymous wrote.

"Megaupload was taken down w/out SOPA being law. Now imagine what will happen if it passes," the group wrote. "The Internet as we know it will end. FIGHT BACK."

--Updated at 7:38 p.m.