Earlier this week, both Oxford and Cambridge Universities were the victims of cyber attacks from the Anonymous hacking collective. In a YouTube video posted on Friday, the University of Southampton has been threatened with an attack over its research into autism. At this time, the Eprints website is down but no other University sites are affected.

In the video (embedded below), a garbled voice accuses University of Southampton researchers of publishing the names of people who have been diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorders:

We are aware that you are publishing names of people that are tested for symptoms of Autism, Adhd and other related things. [sic]

Tweeting from an account named Operation Eprints, named for Southampton’s digital research depository, the video was sent to the University’s official twitter account stating:

We are not spreading bullshit, We do what we say.

The YouTube account connected to Operation Eprints’ threats is only currently hosting one video, the one accusing the University. In the same video, Operation Eprints claim to have taken down the University’s website. For now, these accusations are unfounded as the University has yet to respond to our inquiries.

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  • Oli

    That’s an interesting one! They’ve already done it – http://eprints.soton.ac.uk is down, and given it’s the weekend and iSolutions don’t tend to acknowledge weekends, possibly down for the weekend.

    As for taking down the university website – as long as they think the website is http://soton.ac.uk (like most sane people) they can think it’s down already… we never could make that work :P

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  • Matt

    If they’re going to post a threat video atleast sort the video out, i could barely hear what he was saying cos the music was too loud, as well as it being doubly garbled, sort yourselves out hackers.

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  • Name

    This might just be me being really thick… Surely people involved in studies relating to Autism and ADHD have signed some sort of consent form to say that their names could be used? I can’t see that the University would publish people’s names without their consent. Also, not everyone with some sort of asd choses to keep their diagnosis secret!

    I don’t really have anything against Annonymous, I just can’t see the point of this one!

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    Oli

    You have to go through a really strict ethics procedure and everything is checked along the way to make sure nothing like this can happen. Generally if names are used (with permission) only first names are used anyway. There’s no link to any specific items, which makes it hard to check any claims (or indeed, remove offending material if any did exist)

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  • Christopher Gutteridge

    [This is not an official statement, the views expressed in this comment are my own]

    What a daft pratt. I assume that they decided what to attack first and came up with a reason afterwards. They money it would cost to make eprints.soton.ac.uk resilliant to such an attack is better spent on other things.

    The “warning” is just an excuse to do whatever it is someone’s done to eprints.soton– it’s not responding to pings so I assume a Denial-of-Service attack.

    EPrints has always had a mission of improving reearch communication and thus making the world better. Attacking it just makes me think it’s some idiot with an axe to grind doing it under the Anonymous banner.

    If the complaint has any legitimicy then a formal complaint about research ethics would have been much more effective, but this is about some kid wanting to feel big. If he or she really expected this to have any impact, they’d have given more than a working-day of notice before attacking.

    It’s imortant to remember that this person or people, while operating under the Anonymous flag, it is very unlikely this is the same group who did the high-profile VISA etc. attacks.

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    Oli

    Well said! Afterall, all it takes is a power-mad teenager with no real skilland a few hundred followers (which are worryingly easy to accrue – particularly in teenage years, loyalty is far too easy to win) to type a target, press a button, and feel powerful. Congratulations. Now try submitting a link to the offending document (if there is one) and go through the correct procedure.

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    Christopher Gutteridge

    yeah, it’s one big “citation required”.

    The basic result is that for a time we’re unable to share our research with other people — this person clearly isn’t into the ethics, they just want to mess stuff up.

    Reply

    Anonymous? Come on.

    Also this sounds very little like other Anonymous threats – “stupid stuff like this” and “If these people knew their names were on the internet they will probably not like it”… frankly sounds like a 13 year old wrote it in a hurry.

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  • iSolutions

    iSolutions have taken down the ePrints service externally in order to restore service at least for University users. We are working to restore service for external users as soon as possible.

    Reply