The Russian hacking group Killnet, known to be very supportive of Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed responsibility for taking down the royal.uk website for approximately 90 minutes on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 1. (Related: Several federal agencies HACKED as part of global cyberattack that exploited a flaw in popular file-sharing software.)
Killnet used a denial of service or DoS attack. Sources who spoke with media outlets noted that the website itself was not hacked because Killnet did not gain access to the site's systems or content. Rather, the DoS attack caused a disruption due to the bombardment and overloading of royal.uk's systems with superfluous traffic. This caused the royal family's website to display an error message for anybody attempting to access it: "Gateway time-out error code 504."
Buckingham Palace administrators noted that the ease with which the attack was executed was a cause for concern for the royal family.
Immediately after the attack, a hacker going by the internet pseudonym KillMilk and known as the leader of Killnet, formally claimed responsibility for the attack on the group's Telegram channel.
The cyberattack came just days after Britain's King Charles III voiced his support for Ukraine during a speech before the French Senate in Paris, referring to Russia's so-called "military aggression" as "horrifying."
"Together, we are unwavering in our determination that Ukraine will triumph and our cherished freedoms will prevail," said the king, who received a standing ovation in the French Senate for his speech, which also blasted Russia's supposed "unprovoked aggression." He has also spoken out multiple times against Russia.
In February, the royal family hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Buckingham Palace for talks. Prince William, heir apparent to the British throne, also previously traveled to Ukraine's border with Poland to visit Ukrainian troops.
Other members of the royal family, including Charles' brother Prince Edward, and William's wife Catherine, Princess of Wales, have also been outspoken in their support for Ukraine – which makes the royal family a big target for pro-Russian groups.
In the group's message claiming responsibility, Killnet said the DoS attack was an "attack on pedophiles," a reference to Charles' younger brother, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old American woman trafficked by notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Killnet has been active since at least early 2022, around the time the Russian special military operation in Ukraine began. The Five Eyes intelligence alliance, made up of intelligence agencies of the U.K., the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia, warned of an increased threat from "Russian state-sponsored and Russian-aligned cybercrime" in the wake of the conflict.
Killnet has become notorious for its DoS and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against websites related to countries, organizations and individuals that support Ukraine against Russia.
"While Killnet's DDoS attacks usually do not cause major damage, they can cause service outages lasting several hours or even days," said an analyst within the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center of the American Department of Health and Human Services.
"Although Killnet's ties to official Russian government organizations such as the Russian Federal Security Service or the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service are unconfirmed, the group should be considered a threat to government and critical infrastructure organizations including healthcare," added the note.
Notably, Killnet has been relentlessly targeting the United Kingdom. In May last year, after one of its members was arrested in Britain for an alleged attack on Romanian government websites, the group threatened to target ventilators in British hospitals until he was released.
Killnet has also targeted websites linked to the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization-aligned nations like Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and, of course, Ukraine.
Learn more about cyberattacks around the world at CyberWar.news.
Watch this episode of "World Alternative Media" as host Josh Sigurdson discusses Killnet's massive cyberattack on European banks back in June.