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Communications Government Security The Internet Network Networking United States

FCC Says It Was Victim of Cyberattack After John Oliver Show (thehill.com) 205

On Sunday night, John Oliver urged his viewers to visit a website called "GoFCCYourself," which redirects users to a section of the FCC site where people can comment on the net neutrality proceeding. As a result, the FCC's site temporarily crashed. Now, it appears that the FCC is claiming its website has hit by a cyberattack late Sunday night. The Hill reports: "Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos)," FCC chief information officer David Bray said in a statement Monday. "These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host." The FCC's comments site went down in 2014 after the first time Oliver rallied his audience in support of net neutrality. In that case, it was widely believed the site went down because of the amount of traffic generated in the wake of Oliver's show. But Bray on Monday said that this recent instance was caused by a cyberattack and not a flood of people trying to give input. "These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC," he said.
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FCC Says It Was Victim of Cyberattack After John Oliver Show

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 08, 2017 @05:53PM (#54380915)

    The Federal /Communications/ Commission could not handle the volume of communications they were receiving?

    Brilliant. And these people are supposed to be regulating the internet...

    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:01PM (#54380971)

      Those two things are unrelated. It's perfectly acceptable for a public agency to scale its system to a realistic workload, not for some fluke peak, especially since they're using a cloud provider (where you can run quite a bill).

      The real scary thing is that they can't tell the difference between heavy load and a DDOS.

      • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:20PM (#54381081)

        checking out the comment section as suggested on the show for an automated botnet DDOS attack kind of just paints the FCC leadership as technoramouses (contraction of "technology ignoramous").

        Just the kind of duffoons you want deciding on tech regulation policy.

        "The Trump Administration - Preparing America for a Knowledge Freedom Economy"

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:38PM (#54381187)

          checking out the comment section as suggested on the show for an automated botnet DDOS attack kind of just paints the FCC leadership as technoramouses (contraction of "technology ignoramous").

          Why are we just leaping to the conclusion that it couldn't actually be a DDOS?
          We have no idea. We're just assuming it was heavy traffic and saying "herp derp, FCC are dullards."
          It's just impossible that someone might have watched the John Oliver segment and took it as an opportunity to launch a DDOS?

          • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @08:17PM (#54381647)

            Why are we just leaping to the conclusion that it couldn't actually be a DDOS?

            Because the FCC being incompetent to deal with IT issues is fodder for conspiracies and part of the current anti-administration dialog, while it being the target of a DDoS isn't.

        • No it doesn't. It paints them as FUCKING LIARS who are intentionally trying to find excuses to ignore legitimate public input!

        • Not that stupid: perhaps just a handy ready-made excuse for disregarding many of those comments in consultation : "They're not REAL comments, the were part of a DDoS, As you were, boys..."
      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:42PM (#54381199)

        It's perfectly acceptable for a public agency to scale its system to a realistic workload

        I dare you to look up what they billed the taxpayer for the website and compare it to the workload it can handle. Then let's talk "perfectly acceptable".

        • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @07:04PM (#54381293)

          I dare you to look up what they billed the taxpayer for the website and compare it to the workload it can handle. Then let's talk "perfectly acceptable".

          I don't know the exact cost, but they actually took action to reduce their IT costs, as required by federal guidelines established under Obama:

          https://www.fcc.gov/general/fe... [fcc.gov]

          Basically they're moving all their stuff to the cloud. They already saved millions with that, you can get all the details in their budget review (which is public).

          The Commission made a concerted effort to curb the escalating IT operation and maintenance
          (O&M) costs back in FY 2014. Prior to FY 2014, the FCC faced ever-increasing costs in operating
          and maintaining its aging legacy IT systems. To counter these escalating O&M costs, the FCC IT
          team took the first bold step in early September 2015 by physically relocating over 200 different
          legacy servers from the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. to a commercially hosted federalcertified
          facility located in West Virginia. These servers contained almost 400 different program
          applications. By physically relocating these servers to a commercially hosted provider, not only
          will O&M costs be reduced, but it will also allow for improved resiliency and a shift of many legacy
          applications to the cloud, similar to the Commission’s Consumer Help Desk.
          In FY 2014, 86 percent of IT funding was utilized for O&M and only 14 percent was utilized for
          development, modernization, and enhancements (DME). Those percentages are expected to change
          to 49 percent O&M and 51 percent DME by the end of FY 2017. The savings that will be realized
          on the O&M side will be redirected to delivering new capabilities.

          https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_pub... [fcc.gov]

          To put things in perspective: the entire FCC budget is 380 millions. They have 1800 employees, which already eats about half of that budget. Then there's buildings, power/heating/cooling, furniture, copiers, etc. They're not cheap, but I've worked on project in the private sector where more money that than was wasted on failed ERP initiatives.

      • The real scary thing is that they can't tell the difference between heavy load and a DDOS.

        The typically scary thing is that red people like you will rant about how incompetent they are until they are blue in the face without actually knowing whether they were DDoS'd or not.

        How's about this, kiddo: Why don't you wait until you have some evidence either way before you start pointing fingers and shaking them? This is what your kind always claims to care about when we talk about things. Act like it.

      • > The real scary thing is that they can't tell the difference between heavy load and a DDOS.

        Who says they can't tell? Maybe they're weaving a different narrative in the media to further their ends:

        Step 1. Claim cyberattack

        Step 2. Arrest John Oliver and a few dozen random people who commented for cyber terrorism. HBO's lawyers get tied up in it for months, many random Joes and Janes can't afford proper legal representation and plead out.

        Step 3. Chilling effect. If there is another call to action on

      • by tchdab1 ( 164848 )

        And we're left to wonder if they can't tell the difference between DDOS or a peak load, or if they'll decide to call "DDOS" on any peak load they're politically against.

    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:05PM (#54380999) Homepage

      Total number of comments (so far) is only 184,650. If you're serving the American people and you can't handle even 1% of the population commenting on something over the course of maybe a week (extrapolated), you have failed. Sure, maybe half of these comments came in the first hour. But does that matter?

  • Remember when people used to call this phenomenon Slashdot Effect? [wikipedia.org]

    On a more serious note, is the Trump Administration now going to call Slashdot Effect an "attack," and if so, how is this not a sign of them ramping up the authoritarianism?

    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:04PM (#54380989)

      Remember when people used to call this phenomenon Slashdot Effect? [wikipedia.org]

      On a more serious note, is the Trump Administration now going to call Slashdot Effect an "attack," and if so, how is this not a sign of them ramping up the authoritarianism?

      the FCC is not the same thing as the Trump administration. They are independent and can't have more than 3/5 of their commissioners coming from the same party, and they are nominated for terms longer than the president's.

      Doesn't mean they are competent. But it's not Trump.

    • RTFS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:17PM (#54381053) Homepage

      The FCC isn't saying accusing John Oliver of launching a cyber attack, they're same some third party launched an attack to stop John Oliver's audience from being able to leave comments.

    • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh.gmail@com> on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:24PM (#54381103) Journal

      Maybe while John Oliver was telling people to submit their comments to the FCC en masse, some group that didn't want the people's opinion to get through to the FCC simultaneously launched a DDoS attack on their site...it's possible.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:35PM (#54381157)

        Couldn't the FCC claim there was a cyber attack so they don't have to accept any massive public outcry, that may have also conveniently overwhelmed their system?

        • Another decent possibility...Ajit Pai is in charge of the place after all.

        • Couldn't the FCC claim there was a cyber attack so they don't have to accept any massive public outcry, that may have also conveniently overwhelmed their system?

          They could. It's possible. But it's also very possible that someone attacked the site specifically to prevent people from leaving their comments. Claims of an attack are likely to be true, however, because they can be checked upon later. It's like accusations of rape, people are afraid to make them if they don't have proof, because the penalty for failure is high.

      • Maybe while John Oliver was telling people to submit their comments to the FCC en masse, some group that didn't want the people's opinion to get through to the FCC simultaneously launched a DDoS attack on their site...it's possible.

        Theoretically possible, but it's going to require a high degree of evidence, considering it's already adequately explained by the Slashdot Effect

      • Well, to be fair, it's not "people's" opinion on Net Neutrality, it's John Oliver viewer's opinion on Net Neutrality. Trump supporters are against regulations, even ones that protect them.
        • Well, to be fair, it's not "people's" opinion on Net Neutrality, it's John Oliver viewer's opinion on Net Neutrality. Trump supporters are against regulations, even ones that protect them.

          How do you figure that? J Oliver has a position, but what he told the audience was to go to http://gofccyourself.com/ [gofccyourself.com] and write a comment. Each person is free to leave a pro or con comment.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @05:57PM (#54380949)
    saying they were attacked instead of the obvious truth (that they were overwhelmed by demand) is the kind of thing I'd expect from the Iraqi ministry of information, not the US Government.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Regardless, it goes to show just how badly their (as in the Trump administration/etc) refusal to tell the truth on so many things reflects on them, that the first thing we think of when we hear them say that is "Oh, bullsh*t".
    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:08PM (#54381007)

      What's really creepy is that once again, a majority of liberals take their news from a comedy show and a majority of conservatives take their news from the Twitter feed of a reality TV star turned President.

      We're really heading into Idiocracy territory.

      • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:17PM (#54381061)

        Except that comedy news shows actually tend to be rather intelligent and their humor is often quite smart. And the shows I watch seem to make fun of politicians on all sides. It's entertaining as well as thought-provoking. Anything that can shed light on the dark places using humor (as in actual humor) is a very good thing indeed.

        I think, though, that some powerful figures in this world really don't like humor. Maybe because humor itself dispels fear, and fear is what some are trying to pedal for whatever reason.

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          You find them funny because your share their view. Go on Fox News and watch "Miller Time" with Dennis Miller. He's very intelligent and his humor is smart, but if you happen to be a liberal you won't like him. The thing is, for one Dennis Miller there's 20 Colbert.

          • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:58PM (#54381267)

            I don't always share their view. Perhaps not even mostly.

            I'm sure I agree that Dennis Miller is intelligent and his humor is erudite. I can recognize that and agree with you on that while disagreeing with his point of view. His humor, along with the humor of many others still helps to dispel fear, which is good. I haven't watched much TV in ages, so I'm unfamiliar with Miller but I will watch out for his clips on youtube. If one has a good sense of humor you can like a person without agreeing with him or her.

            I don't see very much true humor coming out the current administration, I must confess, which worries me. Just a lot of thin-skinned people, which is increasingly becoming the norm in public discourse.

            I didn't agree with much of what Bush did during his administration, but he did have a fairly warm sense of humor, even if he sometimes lacked nuance and maybe even competence. I found Obama's humor to be very good also and worked to his benefit. I really enjoyed watching the interview he did with Destin on Smarter Every Day (who is certainly not a liberal). I digress.

          • His humor is "smart", but his conclusions are idiotic. It's been fascinating to watch Dennis Miller shift further to the right and begin pandering to denialists (which is why I stopped watching the last special of his I tried to watch right at the beginning — I would have walked out of the show at that point had I been dumb enough to attend) while Bill Maher has shifted to the left and embraced reality (which has a well-known liberal bias.) I used to hate Bill Maher and be endlessly amused by Dennis M

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Humor is actually a really good way to teach, because that unmistakable moment of recognition gives your audience both instant feedback that you're on the right track, and instant reward for the effort.

      • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:28PM (#54381115)

        Eh, I'd say that the comeback is "and the majority of conservatives take their news from angry talk show hosts". Trumps twitter is a recent thing. This has been going on for decades.

        It's not like... the ONLY news source most of them get is either news comedy or new... rage-induction? Some sure do, but most people on both sides probably get their news from a variety of sources. ...But those sources ALSO include comedians and hate-mongers.

        It's honestly hard to change your views on something, so the first time you hear about a topic is the most vital when it comes to bias and presumptions in all later development.

        It really is Idiocracy territory.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          but most people on both sides probably get their news from a variety of sources

          Not so much. Conservatives are tightly clustered around Fox. [journalism.org] Liberals are much more omnivorous.

          This result is likely due to Fox prioritizing pandering over accuracy because pandering makes money.

          • . Conservatives are tightly clustered around Fox. Liberals are much more omnivorous.

            This result is likely due to Fox prioritizing pandering over accuracy because pandering makes money.

            And here I thought conservatives chose Fox because Fox stuffs every news/commentary group with women whose previous job was Booth Babe at car shows.

      • Your mistake is in thinking it it's a comedy show. It is one of the only legitimate news outlets actually. The others are comedy masquerading as news. Oliver's show outs news masquerading as comedy.
      • We are so far past idiocracy that the light from idiocracy will take 100 years to get to us.

    • by E-Rock ( 84950 )

      Maybe they were attacked. You want Net Neutrality to stay dead. A popular figure puts out a call for people to go make public comments. Do you say, well I've paid all these guys off, no need to worry, or do quickly knock the site offline and make sure no one can file a comment.

    • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:19PM (#54381071) Homepage Journal

      saying they were attacked instead of the obvious truth (that they were overwhelmed by demand) is the kind of thing I'd expect from the Iraqi ministry of information, not the US Government.

      Waitaminute...

      Didn't we just hear a raft of comments about how the left is evidence-based, using the scientific method in all that?

      Something about the EPA replacing half the scientists on a policy board with industry experts?

      How is labelling something an "obvious truth" with no evidence to the contrary any different from "there are no facts any more"?

      The *very probable* explanation is that someone heard John Oliver's screed, realized that many people were going to post opinions to the FCC website, and DDOS'd the site to prevent these people from registering an opinion.

      Of all the stupid things people say that are attacks on democracy, this one actually *is* an attack on democracy.

      A DDOS to prevent public feedback is much more serious than the base issue, and might become more prevalent in the future.

      Perhaps we should be discussing that.

      • realized that many people were going to post opinions to the FCC website, and DDOS'd the site to prevent these people from registering an opinion.

        More likely they did it because it would be "fun*" and might cause just the reaction that it has: added fuel to the conspiracy fire. It is very unlikely that people who don't want net neutrality rules would do something like this, mostly because they don't have to.

        * isn't it wonderful what kinds of destructive things some people consider to be "fun" these days? Bricking IoT devices because you don't like people using them, or that they aren't NSA-level secure, is fun! DDoSing the FCC when there are a lot

      • The *very probable* explanation is that someone heard John Oliver's screed, realized that many people were going to post opinions to the FCC website, and DDOS'd the site to prevent these people from registering an opinion.

        I'm guessing you missed the fact that in the middle of all of this, the FCC changed the content at the link Oliver's site was pointing to, causing tens of thousands of his followers to be linked to a page other than the correct one? Check the comments at the last Slashdot story and you'll see it mentioned that the link had changed Shortly after it all started. To say the least, I'm having a tough time believing the tale they're spinning right now, though I'll agree that we lack conclusive evidence either wa

    • Unfortunately not [twitter.com]

    • saying they were attacked instead of the obvious truth (that they were overwhelmed by demand) is the kind of thing I'd expect from the Iraqi ministry of information, not the US Government.

      You are not reading this

  • Like dupe or what?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 08, 2017 @06:07PM (#54381005)

    Public to FCC: We like Net Neutrality
    FCC to Trump: A lot of people like Net Neutrality
    Trump to Putin: Too much pushback from public on our plan to gut Net Neutrality.
    Putin to Hackers: Kill their network.
    Hackers to FCC: DoS DoS DoS DoS DoS DoS DoS DoS..

  • Ever think they only plan for the 1 percent, and never for the 99 percent?

    FCC works for Russia.

    • Of course they did not plan for 350 million comments in one evening. Nobody plans for that much traffic. It would make the cost of a website astronomical. Even 3.5 million would be unheard of -- so they don't even plan for 1%. As if that number was relevant.

      And people would complain about how much the FCC spends on website services if they DID plan for 350 million comments per day.

      They just can't win, can they?

  • by Sir Realist ( 1391555 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @07:05PM (#54381299)

    "These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC,"

    And so it is important to note, as difficult as it has been for legitimate commenters, that the 180,000-plus comments that they have received, as of this writing, are presumably a small fraction of the actual number of people who attempted to comment on the issue.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      I get how it seems like it's worth a try, to make 'voices heard' and so on, but this decision has been made and the right people have been paid. It's corruption with a seemingly effective fig leaf.
  • "It's not that there's massive interest in this key issue, it's that a few individuals are simulating massive interest..."

    Maybe you're convincing yourselves?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously, the new guy at the head of the FCC said there was never any example of ISPs depriotizing traffic to services in favor of their own stuff... Well the crap that happened with Netflix, where a few ISPs in the US throttled the access speed of Netflix to an unwatchable level, until they came to a paid "agreement" and suddenly, at the flip of a switch, Netflix loaded just fine... As if we are to believe they truly allocated "more" bandwidth to Netflix instead of just "giving it the normal amount of ban

    • They didn't forget (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @08:38PM (#54381769) Homepage Journal

      They intentionally misrepresented (aka lied) the facts, because we now live in a fact-free country. They are manipulating their data because the FCC chairman doesn't want net neutrality because he a shilling for Verizon et al.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> because we now live in a fact-free country.

        Dude wake up. No government has ever been open or told the truth. The only thing that's new is that they aren't even really bothering to hide it anymore, because they know there's nothing that most people will actually do about it.

  • I'm going to assume their website is running on a Pentium 90? Oh wait, then they'd have 184000.6547 comments.

  • So. Basically any time this country tries to make itself heard to the government via legitimate avenues, they're going to claim "We got DDOSed!" and do whatever the fuck they want anyhow...

    JOY!

  • by Sperbels ( 1008585 ) on Monday May 08, 2017 @10:27PM (#54382139)
    This administration doesn't care what you think. Whenever people speak out about something the government is doing, they deny people are upset and go ahead and do it anyway. Don't like the ACA replacement? Wait a couple of weeks, then say you've fixed it and rush it through before anyone reads it. Don't like the fact that they're selling the internet off to Comcast? It was just a DDOS attack. Nobody actually complained. This is so typical of Republicans...they claim the open market will fix everything, then they auction off a monopoly to the highest bidder.
  • Clearly these guys don't realize who their constituents are.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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