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FCC net neutrality cyberattack wasn’t real, says internal report

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After FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blamed a former FCC official hired by the Obama administration Monday, the Office of Inspector General report has been released refuting many of Pai’s claims.

The conclusion of the report is here: “The May 7-8, 2016 degradation of the FCC’s ECFS was not, as reported to the public and to Congress, the result of a DDoS attack.”

It continues that “While several in the Commission were on notice that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was planning to air a segment that could generate a significant public response, that information did not reach the FCC IT group.”

Pai said Monday that a high-profile outage of the agency’s website last year wasn’t caused by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as previously suggested by the agency’s former CIO David Bray, though he didn’t offer an alternative explanation for the crash. Net neutrality supporters accused the agency of making up the attack and blamed it for failing to keep the system online.

In its report, the OIG couldn’t substantiate previous DDoS claims. 

“Our investigation did not substantiate the allegations of multiple DDoS attacks alleged by Bray. While we identified a small amount of anomalous activity and could not entirely rule out the possibility of individual DoS attempts during the period from May 7 through May 9, 2017, we do not believe this activity resulted in any measurable degradation of system availability given the miniscule scale of the anomalous activity relative to the contemporaneous voluminous viral traffic”

“…we learned very quickly that there was no analysis supporting the conclusion in the press release, there were no subsequent analyses performed, and logs and other material were not readily available.”

The OIG report goes on to say that it “determined the FCC did not respond to the event internally in a manner consistent with the severity of the event suggested in the press release.”

Following the crash, the FCC’s original statement stated it was a DDoS attack.

“Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS). 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. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC. While the comment system remained up and running the entire time, these DDoS events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments. We have worked with our commercial partners to address this situation and will continue to monitor developments going forward.” (edited)

The event was directly preceded by HBO host John Oliver urging people to comment on the FCC’s website.

You can read the full report below.

FCC OIC Report on Debunked DDoS Attack by jonathan_skillings on Scribd


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