The royal website was subject to a “denial of service attack”, a royal source has alleged.
Royal.uk, the official hub for information about King Charles, Queen Camilla and their family, was down for around 90 minutes on Sunday morning (1 October), beginning at 10am.
A denial of service attack means the site was bombarded by traffic, which caused it to stop working, the source explained.
Though described as an attack, this event is not the same as hacking, which entails the responsible party successfully getting into the website, leaving it compromised.
Neither the content nor the systems of the royal website were accessed on Sunday.
The site is now up and running as usual. It appears to be conducting an additional security check for visitors to the site, as indicated by a message that appears before entry is granted.
The website provides updates on the King and Queen, as well as historical information about royal residences and art.
It is currently unknown who is responsible for the cyber attack, the source told PA.
Russian hacker group Killnet took responsibility for the attack, posting about it on their Telegram channel. However, it has not been confirmed if they were the group were behind it.
In August, Britain’s intelligence services detected evidence linking a cyber attack on the electoral commission in 2021 to Russians. The attack left the data of 40 million UK voters exposed, and was not detected until October 2022 – more than a year after the breach took place.
Former GCHQ director Sir David Omand told BBC Radio 4’s PM that Moscow would be “first on my list of suspects”, while Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, said Russia “would be at the top of the suspects list by a mile”.
Omand said: “Russians – and I point to them in particular – have been interfering with democratic elections for some years now. Think of the 2016 US election, and then the French election, and then the German election, even our own 2019 election.”
Additional reporting provided by PA