The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) website was taken down last night by hackers.

The site was made unavailable to users through a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack – an attempt by hackers to overload a web server with information sent from a network of computers.

The MoJ tweeted: ‘Unfortunately the justice website is down following a DDoS attack last night, we are working hard to bring it back online ASAP.’

Clive Longbottom, analyst at technology consultancy QuoCirca, said: ‘Government sites tend to be targeted by various individuals, and with this being the MoJ it could be any number of freedom-oriented groups.’

He said there were a number of safeguards organisations could use to prevent their services being taken. ‘Attacks of this nature are getting more frequent as more active groups want to disrupt government work.’ 

In 2005 DPP v Lennon was the first reported criminal case in the UK relating to a denial of service attack. The court found that a denial of service constituted an offence of unauthorised modification under section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.