Monday, October 16, 2017

GAO to Investigate FCC's Flimsy & Bizarre DDoS Attack Claim -

You'll recall that shortly after HBO Comedian John Oliver's most recent video on net neutrality, the FCC's website comment system collapsed under the load of annoyed viewers, leading to numerous reports on how net neutrality's popularity had once again crippled the FCC's systems. But the FCC shortly thereafter came out with a statement claiming that it wasn't a massive backlash to the agency's actions that crippled the website, but a DDoS attack coincidentally conducted at the exact same time Oliver's program aired.

The problem? Security experts doubted the claim, stating they'd seen none of the usual botnet or other online activity that traditionally precedes such attacks.

Similarly skeptical reporters reached out to the FCC for further details, but the agency refused to comment. That led many to wonder if the agency was simply lying in a rather silly effort to create a bogus counter-narrative to the obvious, overwhelming support for net neutrality highlighted by Oliver's latest segment.

Efforts to get more detail on the supposed attack haven't fared any better. Back in May, FCC chief information officer David Bray claimed that a extended FCC "analysis" had revealed that the FCC was "subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks," and that said analysis concluded the attack was a "deliberate attempt by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host."

But Gizmodo reported earlier this year that it had filed a Freedom of Information Act with the FCC asking for more data on the attack, only to discover that the FCC never did any such analysis. The analysis appears to have never taken place. And the FCC is refusing to release over 200 pages of documents that could help clarify the matter. While this was occurring, the agency has also refused to police an attempt to bombard the FCC's website with fake comments supporting its plan to gut net neutrality.

Now the government's top watchdog, the General Accounting Office (GAO), has announced it will be investigating the entire affair to determine what, if anything, Ajit Pai and the FCC did wrong. Evidence so far at best indicates incompetence at the FCC, and at worst a ham-fisted attempt to cover up a bogus DDOS attack, crafted to try and downplay the agency's planned gutting of popular net neutrality protections.

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