The Italian government’s website had been hacked over the weekend by a group of software experts called “Anonymous,” apparently as a protest against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Italy’s Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) news agency reported that Anonymous announced its distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults, citing the political and economic situation in Italy has become unstable.

DDoS attacks make websites unusable by overloading them with a huge number of requests simultaneously such that computer servers cannot handle them.

“Anonymous” specifically criticized the Italian judiciary, and said it was implicated in prostitution, including minors, in an obvious reference to a sensational sex scandal involving Berlusconi.

However, police had warned the site’s administrators ahead if the potential attack, allowing them to take precautions.

As of Monday morning, the website ( appears to be wholly functional.

Reportedly, the ”Anonymous” group of online hackers also have attacked government websites of Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt (all countries convulsed by political unrest).

Late last year, the group claimed to have hacked the websites of Visa (NYSE: V) and MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) in retaliation for freezing the accounts of the Wikileaks website.

A few days ago, the British Foreign Secretary Williams Hague warned that cyber-criminals and hostile foreign intelligence agencies have attempted to hack the UK government, including an attempt to steal data from a defense contractor.