The BBC reported that
20 June 2011 Last updated at 20:32
The UK Serious Organised Crime agency has taken its website offline after it appeared to be a victim of an attack by hacking group Lulz Security.
Soca said it had taken its website offline to limit the impact attack on clients hosted by its service provider.
Soca.gov.uk had been unavailable for much of Monday afternoon, with an intermittent service restored later.
Lulz Security has said it was behind the denial of service attack which had taken the website offline.
Earlier on Monday, as the agency launched an investigation, LulzSec tweeted: "Tango down - in the name of #AntiSec".
The group has hit a number of high-profile websites in recent weeks, including the CIA and US Senate.
Soca appeared to be the victim of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, where large numbers of computers, under malicious control, overload their target with web requests.
In a statement given to BBC News, a Soca spokesman said: "Soca has chosen to take its website offline to limit the impact of DDOS attack on other clients hosted by our service provider.
"The Soca website is a source of information for the general public which is hosted by an external provider. It is not linked to our operational material or the data we hold."
Was it worth bringing the SOCA website back online at all ?
SOCA website still has no anonymous or secure communications methods of contact
SOCA still does not appear to want any "tip offs" from members of the public or
from people with specialist knowledge or access, either in the UK or abroad.
Their website has no means of secure or anonymous electronic communication for
whistleblowers or informants or other Covert Human Intelligence Sources.
- no SSL / TLS encrypted web forms
- no email address(es)
- no published PGP Encryption Key(s)
- no mobile phone SMS text message facility
- no fax number
For what it is worth, there is a postal address:
Serious Organised Crime Agency
PO Box 8000
For several years, there was no public telephone number published by SOCA, but now they have:
The 24/7 telephone number for SOCA is 0370 496 7622. Call for general enquiries or to verify a person as a SOCA officer.
N.B. that is not in any way an anonymous contact method.
SOCA is being replaced / re-branded anyway
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is, for some bureaucratic or political reason, set to disappear by 2013, to be replaced by a "National Crime Agency" headed by a Chief Constable rather than by a former Deputy Chief Constable / former MI5 Director General / former Ministry of Defence "Sir Humphrey", as if that will make any difference whatsoever.
On the 8th June 2011, the Home Office published:
Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May's Foreword to this document says:
The social and economic costs are estimated at between £20 and £40 billion per year
Back in November 2004, Spy Blog asked:
Therefore, after 6 and half years, the Home Office appears to be as clueless as ever. . They cannot even estimate, to the nearest £20 billion, let alone prove quantitatively, that SOCA has actually reduced the damage to the UK of Serious Organised Crime at all.
Instead of 4 operational divisions of SOCA, according to Home Secretary Theresa May:
The NCA will also have its own specialist capabilities, including for surveillance,
fraud and threat to life situations. These will be used by the NCA itself and will be available to the police and other agencies.
The Agency will comprise a number of distinct operational commands: Organised Crime, Border Policing, Economic Crime and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. It will also house the National Cyber Crime Unit. .
So the only differences, apart from the expensive corporate re-branding and the tedious waste of time in amending various Acts of Parliament to use NCA rather than SOCA,
appear to be the absorption of some of the Borders Agency staff and the eventual absorption of CEOP.
Astonishingly, SOCA will take 18 months to 2 years to die off and be replaced by NCA. The "Cyber Crime" bit will not be incorporated until after the London 2012 Olympics .
The length of time that this dithering will take, is toxic to the morale and efficiency of the organisation.
How can they possibly recruit or retain talented staff into a "zombie" agency ?
Is there going to be a US style "intelligence fusion centre", with all that implies for the Privacy of innocent members of the public ?
1.5 Mirroring the arrangements for countering terrorism, the NCA will be home to a significant multi-agency intelligence capability. This will comprise an intelligence coordination hub with information flowing to and from the police and other law
enforcement agencies in support of tactical operational activity. It will also include an expert analytical function, playing a more strategic role - a Joint Serious
and Organised Crime Assessment Centre.
Where is the Serious Organised Crime Prevention strategy ?
In the same week as the publication of the NCA plan, the Home Office also issued a revised PREVENT counter terrorism strategy document.
This rightly criticised the former Labour government's failures
The Prevent programme we inherited from the last Government was flawed. It confused the delivery of Government policy to promote integration with Government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to confront the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face; and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.
It remains to be seen if the new PREVENT strategy is any better in practice than the old one, but the obvious question must be asked - where is the equivalent Serious Organised Crime prevention plan or strategy ?
Many of the criminal operational techniques used by Serious Organised Crime gangs e.g. drug dealing, armed robberies, credit card fraud, money laundering, counterfeit goods etc. are exactly the same as those used by terrorists, and vice versa.
Many of the same people who are drawn into Terrorism, are also likely recruits for Serious Organised Crime gangs, especially within families or minority ethnic groups, or vulnerable people in prisons or schools etc.
Neither SOCA nor the proposed NCA appear to have any functions or budget to actually prevent people being drawn into Serious Organised Crime gangs in the first place.
Why not ?