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  • The group says the attack on BBC websites was not meant to last for few hours but it did due to its powerful servers.

    The group says the attack on BBC websites was not meant to last for few hours but it did due to its powerful servers. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 January 2016

New World Hacking, an anti-Islamic State cyber group, told the BBC it carried out the hack on Dec. 31 to test the capability of its own servers.

An anti-Islamic State hacking group, called the New World Hacking, claimed Saturday that it was behind a service outage of BBC’s websites Dec. 31 to “test capabilities.”

The BBC said in a report Saturday that the group contacted BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones through Twitter claiming the so-called “distributed denial of service” attack.

"We are based in the US, but we strive to take down ISIS affiliated websites, also ISIS members,” the group said in a Twitter message to Cellan-Jones, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. "The reason we really targeted (the) BBC is because we wanted to see our actual server power."

A "distributed denial of service" attack aims to knock a site offline by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle. After claiming the outage was a “technical issue”, the BBC had confirmed Thursday that it was a distributed denial of service attack that brought down its services.

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On the day of the attack, Campbell Murray, technical director at Encryption Ltd, which advises British intelligence unit GCHQ on cybersecurity, had told local media that, “Any group or individuals intent on disrupting the BBC’s services would have to have considerable resources to do so."

In its report Saturday, the BBC quoted one of the group's members, referred to as Ownz, saying that New World Hacking was a team of 12 people who founded the group in 2012.

Ownz confirmed the group was already active as it took part in a recent campaign against the Ku Klux Klan, and the #OpParis effort to identify and report on Islamic State group-affiliated accounts in the wake of the Paris attacks in November.

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While BBC was down, users who tried to access the site saw the message: “The site could be temporarily unavailable or too busy.” The attack also affected the BBC’s iPlayer and iPlayer Radio services.

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