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4chan May Have Brought Down Pro-Clinton Phone Lines Before Election Day (theverge.com) 99

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Yesterday, as groups across the country hit the final stretch of their get-out-the-vote campaigns, workers at NextGen Climate noticed some problems with their automated dialer program. As the team started its morning hours, the program used to initiate and monitor voter calls was suddenly clunky, and cut out entirely for crucial hours in the afternoon. The downtime wasn't a coincidence. Just after midnight on Sunday night, a post on 4chan's /pol/ board announced an impending denial-of-service attack on any tools used by the Clinton campaign, employing the same Mirai botnet code that blocked access to Twitter and Spotify last month. One of those targets was TCN, the Utah-based call center company that runs NextGen's dialer. According to the post's author, the company was also providing phone services to Hillary Clinton's offices in Nevada. "List targets here that if taken out could harm Clinton's chances of winning and I will pounce on them like a wild animal," the post reads. "Not sleeping until after this election is over." TCN confirmed the outage in a statement, describing the attack as "fairly sophisticated in nature." According to the statement, "the primary impacts were a slow site and a few brief periods of unavailability." The statement also makes it clear that NextGen Climate was far from the only group slowed down by the outage. TCN manages calling services for 2000 different clients, with a particularly brisk business during campaign season handling "everything from inbound information IVRs, outbound surveys to volunteer outreach."
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4chan May Have Brought Down Pro-Clinton Phone Lines Before Election Day

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  • I'm conflicted (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:23PM (#53241629)

    I hate this sort of thing, generally speaking... but bringing down an auto-dialer farm seems like a net plus for humanity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wierd_w ( 1375923 )

      Agreed. I would feel much better about this if they had targeted all of the campaign autodialer firms, and not just Hillary's. An election free from hounding pollsters, cold calls, and attack ads would be like waking up from a bad dream.

      Too bad the autodialers diversify and innocent services get impacted by the denial of service.

      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        Get Ooma with the Community Blacklist. I didn't get a single political call this year. I almost never get sales calls either. In fact, when Ooma actually rings, it's somebody I want to talk to. WELL worth $9.99 per month.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by markdavis ( 642305 )

      I am not conflicted at all.

      ALL autodialing systems should be illegal and a criminal offense. A system should be developed to prevent all ID spoofing and a target should be able to press a simple code number to have it reported directly to an agency who is required to research and prosecute. Such calls are beyond annoying, stupid, and an invasion of privacy. ANY system taken down is a plus, regardless of what type, source, or target.

      DIE!

      • ALL autodialing systems should be illegal and a criminal offense.

        In my state (Washington), they have been illegal for several years... UNLESS they're being used by political campaigns. Big surprise, huh?

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        I agree on the spoofing issue; the main problem with autodialing (as opposed to manual) isn't autodialing per se, but predictive dialing where the computer speculatively dials based on the likelihood of an operator becoming free in the next few seconds.

        But in a way it's almost a boon. If I pick up the phone and count three-Mississippi with nobody on the other end I just hang up.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        >> ALL autodialing systems should be illegal and a criminal offense.

        I'll go further and say that any unsolicted marketing calls should be illegal, as should be spoofing your caller ID.

        It boggles my mind that phone companies haven't already been ordered to provide the caller's number themselves rather than allow the caller to do so.

        • >>> ... phone companies haven't already been ordered to provide the caller's number themselves rather than allow the caller to do so.

          I used to work in telephone systems. The ability to set an ID was INTENDED to allow reasonable situations, e.g. any outgoing call from a switchboard showing the general switchboard number (or perhaps a departmental number) rather than the individual number of the switchboard's "hunt group" by which the call is actually controlled in the PSTN. If you specify the
      • >ALL autodialing systems should be illegal and a criminal offense.

        What does that mean exactly? I manage auto dialing and notification systems for doctors offices that notify people they have appointments coming up. So I assume you mean unsolicited dialing. Of course in that case these groups will try to buy into existing lists so they aren't "unsolicited".

        • I assume you mean unsolicited dialing.

          I never solicit automated dialing. I find it offensive.

          If you deliver a recording or a synthesized voice to my phone, I will hang up on it.

          If various operations can't be bothered to put a person to work, someone who at least might have the flexibility to respond to my inquiries, direct me where I need to go to deal with issues, etc., I can't be bothered to give them any of my time.

          When real AI gets here and if as a consequence people's employment isn't a critical facto

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            Its like those voice menu systems you get when you phone anyone these days. I refuse to talk to a machine.
            They can ask for all the info they like before they try and let me speak to a human, but I just keep saying "agent" in response to everything. It pretty much always works.

    • I hate this sort of thing, generally speaking... but bringing down an auto-dialer farm seems like a net plus for humanity.

      Add 4chan to that and you've got yourself a deal, sir!

      • by Z80a ( 971949 )

        Most of the 4chan is actually pretty decent.
        It's mostly /pol/ that is a bit of a fuck up, but its a fuck up you still can argue with.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As much I hate autodialing systems, that may not be the core issue here.

      Based on the very little info that I read here, this seems to clearly fall into the realm of "interfering in a fair election". If Russia had done this, our security services would probably be gearing up for a fairly ugly netspace counterattack. And it really doesn't matter if the target was Clinton or Trump. You don't mess with of our elections for free - you face consequences. That strikes right at the heart of our system and we should

      • Well, 4chan is people from all over the world (just surf there and look at all the different flags that post), so I expect this to be pretty murky.

      • > You don't mess with of our elections for free - you face consequences

        That very much depends on who you are (or who your husband used to be). Also WHERE you are. In some counties, the local Democrat party is openly committing felony vote buying- the votes bought include the local prosecutor etc.

    • I agree with you, I hate seeing this kind of thing no matter who does it. Wikileaks has faced a ton of DDoS attacks as well, especially this week.

    • I hate this sort of thing, generally speaking... but bringing down an auto-dialer farm seems like a net plus for humanity.

      My vote goes to whoever invents a practical means of killing robocall centers. So should the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @06:38PM (#53241739)
    is it safe to assume we mean "Russia"?
    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      Bonus points if you claim your least favorite candidate caused them to do it!
    • Russians have standards

  • Doesn't look like it's going to make any difference.

  • Morally wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by myid ( 3783581 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @07:12PM (#53241885)

    I voted for Trump, and I hate getting these calls as much as anyone. But disrupting election efforts like this is morally wrong. It's unfair to the party that's getting attacked, and it's an attack against having a free and fair election.

    • I voted for Trump, and I hate getting these calls as much as anyone. But disrupting election efforts like this is morally wrong. It's unfair to the party that's getting attacked, and it's an attack against having a free and fair election.

      Why?

      In the closing days of the election his own campaign didn't even trust him with a Twitter account.

      What possessed you to think he should be President????

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      I think having a free and fair election would be a great idea for the USofA. Perhaps try it the next time, because there are som many things wrong with the US Election System it isn't even funny anymore.
      This has NOTHING to do with the outcome as BOTH where a bad choice.

  • My pet frog, Pepe got loose and was jumping on my keyboard.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2016 @07:54PM (#53242071)

    If you didn't know today was Election Day, and hadn't made up your mind yet, do us all a favor and don't vote.
    Seriously. People who might have benefited from these calls are clearly not really making an informed, thought-out decision if they are this out-of-touch.

  • Pro-Hillary phone-lines down? No problem, just use email ... oh, wait

  • TCN confirmed the outage in a statement, describing the attack as "fairly sophisticated in nature."

    This is exactly how I would describe a DDoS attack as well. As sophisticated as using a sledgehammer to disassemble a computer

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