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The group of hackers known as “Anonymous”, which attacked Tunisian government websites this month, has warned the Egyptian government of reprisals if it blocks internet access for protestors, even as British police swooped down and arrested five men in connection with the activities of this notorious organisation.
“Anonymous wants you to offer free access to uncensored media in your entire country,” it said in a Facebook posting.
“When you ignore this message, not only will we attack your government websites, we will also make sure that the international media see the horrid reality you impose on your people!” it said.
Anonymous encouraged people to join its “Operation Egypt” and download software that would enable it to launch distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks.
In such attacks, a large number of computers are commandeered to simultaneously visit a website, overwhelming its servers, slowing service or knocking it offline completely.
Anonymous earlier this month managed to shut down the Tunisian government’s official website, the national stock exchange site, and other sites during a popular uprising that led to the ousting of the country’s dictator.
Egyptian pro-democracy activists have vowed to step up their anti-government protests, despite mass arrests and high security following two days of street clashes.
The protests against the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak, inspired by the groundbreaking “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia, have sent shockwaves across the region.
Twitter and Facebook were among internet social networking services reportedly being used by protesters to share information and coordinate activities in the campaign against Mubarak.
Facebook said Wednesday following reports it had been blocked in Egypt that it had not seen any major changes in traffic from the country.
Twitter said its service remained blocked in Egypt as of 2200 GMT on Wednesday but that some people were using third-party applications or proxy servers to successfully send “tweets” at the microblogging service.
Meanwhile, British police arrested five people on Thursday as part of an investigation into cyber attacks by “Anonymous”, which last year assailed websites that were hostile to WikiLeaks.
In a series of dawn raids in England, three teenage boys and two adult men were arrested on suspicion of breaking the Computer Misuse Act 1990, as part of an international probe, London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said.
“The five males aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26 are being held after a series of coordinated arrests at residential addresses,” a statement said.
It added: “The arrests are in relation to recent and ongoing ‘distributed denial of service’ attacks. – AFP