RNLI takes website offline after suspected cyber attack

RNLI boat

The Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI) has taken its website almost entirely offline after “suspicious activity” was detected on the service.

The charity said the move was a precautionary measure and that staff had also been receiving threatening emails.

The RNLI has reverted to a stripped-back landing page which still offers details on how to donate and buy gifts, but all other pages and services have been taken offline.

“The RNLI’s website has been the subject of suspicious activity today, Friday December 3 2021,” an RNLI spokesperson told the PA news agency.

“As a precaution, the RNLI has taken the decision to take down its website while investigating the activity. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and we’re working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

It’s currently unclear at the moment what the specifics of the incident are and what the suspicious activity on the RNLI’s website was.

However, the charity said to PA that it does not think the decision to take the website offline was due to a recent pressure campaign from right-wing political group Britain First.

The group previously shared a now-dead link to a Telegram channel online through which members could send pre-written messages to Mark Dowie, chief executive at the RNLI.


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“Britain First does not have the ability to hack websites and anyone suggesting we could do so is spreading fake news,” Britain First leader Paul Golding told Mail Online.

“We are currently running an online complaints drive against the RNLI... This is a legitimate campaign and thousands of patriots have taken part.

“If the RNLI website has been hacked, we urge them to report it to the police.”

The group claimed more than 3,000 messages had been sent before taking the link offline, saying the ‘campaign has ended’.

On the web page providing a link to the pressure campaign, Britain First claimed the RNLI was acting illegally by allowing migrants to cross the channel from France, labelling the group as people traffickers.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.