On December 31, 2015, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) suffered a cyberattack which resulted in all of its websites being taken offline for a number of hours. A hacking group operating under the name “New World Hacking” has now claimed responsibility for the BBC DDoS Cyberattack.

BBC DDoS cyberattack conducted to test hacking group’s capabilities

The BBC was chosen not because of some vendetta against the broadcaster, but as a test of the power of the hacking groups servers ahead of planned attacks on ISIS. The hackers behind the BBC DDoS cyberattack did not actually intend on taking down the BBC websites, but it turned out that the servers being used for the attack proved to be “quite strong,” according to one member of the group who came forward.

‘Quite strong’ is something of an understatement. The BBC DDoS cyberattack was the largest ever recorded, with traffic up to 660 Gbps, which corresponds to many tens of thousands of connections. The hackers took down the BBC website using the Bangstresser tool, and used two nodes of attack and “a few extra dedicated servers.” Before the BBC DDoS cyberattack, the largest ever recorded was a 334 Gbps attack on an Asian network operator last year.

Attacks of this size are rare. Few manage more than 100 Gbps and when attacks of this magnitude occur they tend to be fairly short-lived, although while they are being conducted they can cause a substantial amount of damage. Many of the connections will be blocked by network filters, which are capable of identifying spoofed IP addresses, although by no means all. Attacks of this scale are likely to cause a serious amount of damage to enterprise networks.

In this case, the hacktivists were only testing capabilities and the motivation for the attack appears to have been made clear; however not all hackers conduct DDoS attacks to disrupt web services or take down servers. All too often a DDoS attack is conducted as a smokescreen to distract IT staff while the real mission is completed. One part of a network is attacked, while other members of the group attempt to gain access to other parts of the network and install backdoors for subsequent attacks or steal data. This was demonstrated recently by the attack on UK Broadband and mobile phone service provider TalkTalk.

Who are New World Hacking?

New World Hacking is an American group of 12 hackers – 8 men and 4 women – that was formed in 2012. The group has conducted numerous campaigns against terrorist organizations in the past, as well as on other groups and individuals that the hackers deem to be unpleasant or whose views or actions are contrary to the group’s beliefs.

New World Hacking has previously conducted large-scale DDoS attacks and has taken down websites run by members of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as websites depicting child pornography. Other targets include Donald Trump. That attack occurred at the same time as the BBC DDoS cyberattack and resulted in the presidential candidate’s website being taken offline for five hours. The group targeted Trump because of his recent “racist rhetoric.”

The group was also active after the recent Paris terrorist attacks and attempted to identify social media accounts used by ISIS.

The main target of New World Hacking is ISIS. The group is now planning to use its servers for attacks on ISIS websites, and those of ISIS supporters. The group claims to have a list of targets that it plans to attack in the very near future.

A member of the group going by the name of Ownz told the BBC “We realize sometimes what we do is not always the right choice, but without cyber hackers… who is there to fight off online terrorists?” The group aims to unmask ISIS, stop its spread, and end the propaganda.