Royal family website attacked by Russian hackers

Pro-Kremlin group claims responsibility just two weeks after King Charles condemns invasion of Ukraine

Russian flag displayed on a laptop overlaid with binary code
Pro-Kremlin hackers have repeatedly targeted Nato countries that back Ukraine
(Image credit: Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Russian hackers have said they carried out a cyberattack that brought down the royal family's official website.

The pro-Kremlin hacker group Killnet took responsibility for the denial of service (DoS) attack – where sites are bombarded and overloaded with superfluous traffic – that left displaying an error message for around an hour and a half on Sunday morning.

DoS attacks "differ from hacking in that the people targeting the website do not actually gain access or control of the site", said The Daily Telegraph. The paper confirmed that despite the disruption "no access to the site, systems or content was gained".

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Killmilk, the purported leader of the group, posted on the messaging service Telegram that the takedown was an "attack on paedophiles". 

Killnet has carried out similar attacks before against nations supporting Ukraine, "particularly NATO countries", said Metro. And cybersecurity experts cited by the Daily Mail believe the group "could have links with figures at the top of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's regime".

It is the second time Killnet has gone after the royal family after a DoS attack on its site in November. And it comes just two weeks after King Charles's condemnation of Russia's "unprovoked aggression" in Ukraine was met with a standing ovation in Paris.

In May, The Telegraph reported fears that international cyberterrorists could target live broadcasts during the King’s coronation to take the ceremony off the air and "score a propaganda coup".

According to The Sun, the late Queen had already "stepped up defences" against hackers after learning the royal family were a high-profile target back in 2021. It followed a warning from her cybersecurity experts that there was a high rather than medium risk of unauthorised access to royal household data. The report, written by Sir Michael Stevens, keeper of the Privy Purse, said the effect of hacking would be "reputational damage, penalties and/or legal action against the Household or members of staff".

Buckingham Palace has so far declined to comment on the latest cyberattack but "it is understood" that an investigation is under way, the Mail reported.

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