An unknown party claiming to be part of the Anonymous hacker collective emailed the StarTribune on Wednesday morning, June 22, claiming responsibility for the ongoing DDoS attacks that downed the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website for most of the business day.
The attacks started around 8:00 AM, and access to mncourts.gov was restored around 5:15 PM, in the afternoon. At the time of writing, the website is still not accessible from some parts of the world, meaning the IT staff is still limiting access based on an IP filtering system.
“Anonymous Legion” takes responsibility for the attacks
In the email sent to the local newspaper, the hacker(s), who used the Anonymous Legion monicker, said they also managed to penetrate the Minnesota courts’ servers, stole data, and urged the newspaper not to believe the authorities if they denied the incident.
The attackers did not provide any proof to support their data breach allegations. Officials also informed the FBI Cyber Task Force.
This is the second time in six months when this happens to the Minnesota courts system. Last December, DDoS attacks took the same website offline for ten days between December 21 and 31. Previously, the website was hit with another DDoS attack on December 8, 2015.
No clues as to why (or if) Anonymous DDoSed the website
To this day, nobody has discovered who and why attacked the Minnesota courts system. No other judicial branch from any other state has suffered similar attacks.
This Twitter discussion from two cyber-security experts also shows the general confusion as to why Anonymous would attack this target. One of Anonymous’ biggest Twitter accounts has failed to provide any answers as well.
Outside the email the StarTribune received, there was no chatter online about the ongoing DDoS attacks.
It is exactly for these reasons that one of Anonymous’ biggest factions has decided to create a political party in the US, called The Humanity Party (THumP), to serve as the group’s official voice and to discourage smaller factions from launching blind DDoS attacks without any good reason.
THumP says it aims to coordinate Anonymous efforts in order to trigger a change in local politics, but not by launching senseless DDoS attacks, from which it will try to distance itself.