HACKERS launched a cyber attack on the University of Southampton disrupting its websites, the Daily Echo can reveal.
The university has confirmed that it was the subject of a “denial-of-service” (DoS) attack – which is an attempt to make a machine or network resources unavailable to users.
It caused the university’s ePrints service, which is a database for academic research, to be affected over the weekend.
A sinister video was posted on the Internet by a group claiming to be part of the hacking organisation Anonymous.
In the one-minute clip, a distorted voiceover claims the university had published the names of people with symptoms of autism and ADHD – something the educational institution denies.
The voice adds: “These people have no clue that their names are being published on the Internet.
“If these people knew their names are on the Internet, they will probably not like it.
“We took down your website. This is our first and our last warning.”
The attack comes after several other universities – including Oxford and Cambridge – were also targeted by groups claiming to be associated with Anonymous – an organisation that has reportedly hacked several Government websites.
The University of Southampton said it had procedures in place to deal with the attack.
A spokesman added: “This was a DoS attack, to which the university responded using a planned incident process.
“Access to the Internet and ePrints was affected for a short time. Although access to ePrints was restricted by the university to users on the university’s internal network over the weekend, the DoS attack did not take down the website, and no unauthorised access would have been obtained by virtue of the attack.
“The university takes its obligations under the Data Protection Act and the safeguarding of personal data in its custody very seriously.
“It is almost inconceivable that names would be published without explicit prior consent. The more likely explanation is that any names published were published with explicit prior consent.”
The university has said it will be happy to investigate any specific allegations of names being published without consent if any are brought to its attention.