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FCC Should Prove DDoS Attacks Stopped Net Neutrality Comments (networkworld.com) 104

New submitter Michelle Davidson writes: After John Oliver urged viewers of HBO's Last Week Tonight to fight again for net neutrality and post comments in support of it, people hit a wall — the FCC's site essentially crashed. Originally, it was believed that the number of people trying to access the site caused the problem, but then the FCC released a statement saying "multiple" DDoS attacks -- occurring at the same time Oliver sent viewers to the site -- caused the site to crash: "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." The group Fight for the Future doesn't buy it, though, and wants proof. It says the FCC should release the logs: "The FCC should immediately release its logs to an independent security analyst or major news outlet to verify exactly what happened last night. The public deserves to know, and the FCC has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website and ensure that every member of the public who wants to submit a comment about net neutrality has the ability to do so. Anything less is a subversion of our democracy." No word yet from the FCC on whether it will release its logs, leading the interwebs to speculate about whether it was actually an attack to prevent commenting or if the FCC is ill-prepared to handle large amounts of traffic and blamed DDoS attacks to cover their inabilities. People are even questioning whether the FCC's tech team knows what a DDoS attack is.
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FCC Should Prove DDoS Attacks Stopped Net Neutrality Comments

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  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @03:22AM (#54390573) Homepage

    Which is more telling; lots of people trying to post comments for net neutrality or some organizations trying to block those people from posting those comments?

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @03:25AM (#54390589) Homepage

      Ironic side note: If net neutrality were abolished, ISP's could legally throttle access to the FCC site, effectively blocking people from posting these comments.
      No DOSS attacks needed to prevent people from speaking out against ISP's.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @03:31AM (#54390597)

        they could also hinder access to politically progressive or liberal sites while giving the fake news at big-business friendly fox or breitbart a free pass... hell, with sufficient packet sniffing, they could zero in on reddit's pro-trump subs and allow those while making the rest of reddit load like cat videos streaming on siberian dialup... nix any page that is anti-company.... don't worry, we aren't giving them any ideas, they've already come up with this and a whole lot more that they're just chomping at the bit to implement -- of course, without telling us anything about it either.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @04:51AM (#54390801)

          they could also hinder access to politically progressive or liberal sites while giving the fake news at big-business friendly fox or breitbart a free pass... hell, with sufficient packet sniffing, they could zero in on reddit's pro-trump subs and allow those while making the rest of reddit load like cat videos streaming on siberian dialup... nix any page that is anti-company.... don't worry, we aren't giving them any ideas, they've already come up with this and a whole lot more that they're just chomping at the bit to implement -- of course, without telling us anything about it either.

          You could do all this, or you could just pay Facebook to do it.

          (As if you really need any other tool to influence the ignorant masses.)

  • by thadtheman ( 4911885 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @03:52AM (#54390643)

    Doesn't help much and by the time there is proof one way or another it will all be over either way.

    Frankly I'm convinced it is a DDoS for one reason. If it wasn''t, Pai might be stupid enough to claim it was, but there are people are him who would convince him that making the claim it was not a smart thing to do. Hell, rumor has it Verizon is running an electro astroturfing campaign. Creating bots that that create false accounts and submit antiNN comments. Maybe their bots ran wild and created the DDoS.

    Keep in mind this is not a referendum, even if the FCC receives negative comments totaling 99% of the US population, they can just blow it off.

    When MS and the DoJ reached a settlement more then a decade ago. Before the judge could approve the settlement, they had to do something similar. They received a ton of comments that went something like "Microsoft sucks break it up.". The judge took a few substantive comments and tweaked the settlement a bit and approved it.

    I think a better effort would be to make sure that people get a way to confirm their comments actually were submitted and reflect their actual comments. Just think of what would happen if Comcast were caught forging comments!

    Something else they can do is get the comment period extended to compensate for the difficulties. Just like when there is a problem with a polling place in an election, a judge can extend the times the polls are open. The FCC, after all, does not have to abide by the comments, but they do, by law, have to receive the comments and listen to them.

    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

      I think a better effort would be to make sure that people get a way to confirm their comments actually were submitted and reflect their actual comments.

      Try out the site - it does send you a confirmation. Nice thing is, once you confirm this, you'll have commented instead of whining aimlessly on a site that the FCC probably doesn't even know exists. (Not that that denigrates /. at all, I'm sure the current FCC doesn't realize anything exists other than fox.com, paramount.com, disney.com, etc....)

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @03:57AM (#54390657)

    A lot of people trying to access a resource at the same time.

    We know this phenomenon as "slashdotting". And funny enough, it hasn't really happened a lot in the more recent past, maybe the FCC should get up to speed. Even though unlikely, it might suddenly get hit by a lot of traffic because suddenly a lot of people might get interested in that "net neutrality" thing.

    • It's possible to tell DDoS traffic from legitimate traffic quite easily. Even if it's just zombies hitting the web page. However more often that not a DDoS is not even remotely similar to legitimate web traffic.

  • Dudes - Adjit pai has your back on this! Calm down and relax!

    Alternative facts not withstanding - who needs any sort of oversight or regulation of the Internet? It routes around total authoritarian control.

    /sarc

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The irony of net neutrality is that without it, Verizon can stop you accessing the FCC website to complain about the lack of Net Neutrality.

      You're distracted, Trump sacks Comey shortly after Comey asked for a subpoena of Flynns in connection to large payments from Turkey and Russia that were not disclosed. So lots of people are doing lah lah lah look over here.

      Kushner corp just tried to raise $150 million from Chinese investors in exchange for investor visas.... why would a billionaire need money? And where

  • by Nondidjos ( 4359161 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @04:47AM (#54390789)
    I am not a specialist but looking at the comments it seems that a bot has been posting the same text *against net neutrality* (starting with "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation..."). It looks like a bot because the messages appear to come from people that posted in alphabetical order of their first name/last name combination: Brittany Mccain, Brittany Proctor, Brittany Sharp, etc. in the view sorted by date posted. https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/searc... [fcc.gov]
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I am not a specialist but looking at the comments it seems that a bot has been posting the same text *against net neutrality* (starting with "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation..."). It looks like a bot because the messages appear to come from people that posted in alphabetical order of their first name/last name combination: Brittany Mccain, Brittany Proctor, Brittany Sharp, etc. in the view sorted by date posted.

      LOL! This is what happens when you contract out your "anti-net-neutrality-posting-bot" to the lowest Indian bidder on Upwork.

    • According to those on Reddit, it is "DCIGroup.com". That web site, in turn, is under heavy DDoS attack and using Cloudflare to protect themselves. Some of the wording seems to come from CFIF [prnewswire.com].

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @05:02AM (#54390815)

    Just incredible how this administration is basically trying to re-write history...

    Whether or not it was a DDoS attack, the thing is, this already happened in the past, for the exact same reason. So regardless if there was a DDoS attack or not, the website would've come down the same way:
    http://www.latimes.com/busines... [latimes.com]

    That link there? It's from 2014, despite looking exactly like past weekend. That was the moment when this matter should've been settled. No need for clowns with extremely punchable faces like Ajit Pai to try to reverse it in any way, if public comment even mattered. The public opinion has been heard on this, they are already ignoring whatever comments were made in the past. People don't need to be doubtful whether public comment is being heard or not... it clearly isn't.

    Question is exactly the same, the fears are exactly the same of 2014, net neutrality did not change since then nor it's reasons to exist.
    The companies along their greed to make more money on costumers also didn't change... if anything, it only grew.
    Now they also have a whole lot more politicians in their pockets, people who are willing to go against public comments because they have their heads stuck in their asses. Remember people, it was only 3 years ago that the public outcry for net neutrality happened. All this administration is doing is reversing what people conquered. This would be unacceptable in any decent democracy, but here we are held prisioners by an administration that refuses to listen.

    Fight for the Future has all the reasons to be suspicious about this, because pretty much anyone can claim that a website crash was not because of unpredicted access numbers but rather some coordinated attack of some form. But ultimately, the violation has already happened. When you have an administration that is this willing to bend over for corporations wishes, it doesn't matter if they revert something or not, they'll find a way to bend laws and turn a blind eye to violations. Net neutrality has ended as soon as Ajit Pai got the chair. Whether net neutrality crashes or not, I guarantee we'll be seeing problematic behaviours arising plenty soon.
    It's not so much what's on paper, but rather the signals politicians send with stuff like these.

    • The companies along their greed to make more money on costumers also didn't change... if anything, it only grew. Now they also have a whole lot more politicians in their pockets,

      Yes, it is indeed frightening how many greedy corporations are trying to sway net neutrality legislation in their favor. You can find a list here [internetassociation.org].

  • DDoS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UID30 ( 176734 )
    Distributed - Was all the traffic originating from one location?
    Denial - Was the resource denied to its user base?
    of - (i got nothing)
    Service - The thing.

    Unfortunately, the line between activism and vandalism is going to be drawn by a court somewhere. Oliver did an awesome thing in an awful way ... by inciting the activity he gives a very public central focal point to those seeking retribution for the perceived offense.

    One question to ask yourself is, "is this any different from a hacker running a
    • The only thing you're proving is that they are using creative license to classify this as a DDoS, when it is really legitimate comments that they don't have the infrastructure in place to support. Sure, there are bots posting the same thing over and over, but those can be filtered in the end.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      It's down to intent and all the vagaries that entails. If the intent was to communicate an opinion, then it is not a denial of service attack, it is simply a site unable to handle the legitimate load. If the intent is to keep others from commenting, it is exactly a denial of service attack.

      If it is due to a bot masquerading as individuals, then it is fraud.

      John Oliver laid out the argument and then pointed his viewers to a site where they could comment as they wish. That is substantially different from targ

      • by UID30 ( 176734 )
        Yes! Its a slippery slope, indeed. If the case makes it to an actual court then a judge will have to draw an arbitrary line in the sand as to what constitutes an attack. Did Oliver suggestion that his viewers use the site for their protest constitute an attempt to deny access to the resource? How many of those viewers had access to small (or large) bot-nets of their own creation that they pointed at the site? How is this similar or dissimilar to inciting a riot if the guy inciting didn't actually DO th
  • The FCC was once a pretty good organization, and mostly managed to enact and enforce regulations that were in the best interests of the public good. But with Ajit Pai's kowtowing to Trump and to the corporate interests he serves, and now this, it seems the FCC is just another utterly corrupt organ in a thoroughly cancer-riddled body politic. Sad.

    • I don't think the FCC should be in the business of regulating ISPs. Leaving aside the fact that they're not elected and ignoring the fact that they're political party based, their only claim to authority was based on the idea that the internet is somehow within "telecommunications."

      That's pretty insane if you think about it. What should have happened was the expansion of their authority or the creation of a entirely different agency to handle internet regulation, but that would literally require an act of C

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        That's kind of an irrelevant argument. I mean you could also argue that the FCC should just be renamed FCIC (Federal Communications & Internet Commision) in the same way that the ATF covers three pretty separate sets of regulations.

        Not to mention the hassle you'd have when you consider the fact that telephone, cellular and TV (all definitely under FCC purview) are by far the primary providers of internet access. So putting internet under a different organization would mean two independent bodies both

  • by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @08:16AM (#54391343)

    Why does it matter? Would the government be embarrassed if the website couldn't handle the traffic? Would they not want to admit that there was a massive barrage of comments from citizens opposed to their policies? Or are they just waiting a few days to blame it on the evil Russians?

    Even if every single HBO subscriber wrote a comment to the FCC, the government wouldn't read more than a few (if they bother to read ANY) and certainly wouldn't do anything in response. We might get a new head of the FCC in a few years, but the career bureaucrats aren't elected and won't be up for re-appointment. They don't care what you think because they have no reason to care.

    • The Obama care site couldn't handle te traffic. What makes anyone think the FCC could handle it. They design websites with the thought "no one reads this crap."

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      I'd be surprised if no one read it. Why even offer the site if that was the case?

      Most likely, it will be a handful of interns and other low-level staff who go through and tally up yay/nay on whatever list of pre-defined concerns/issues someone decided on. And when the tallying is done, they'll present the totals to their bosses (possibly with some quotes from the better comments) who will take it into account when they make their decisions.

      This is of course a bit of a biased process -- whoever defined the

  • It's probable the FCC did it to themselves just to keep comments from net neutrality supporters getting posted.

  • These dumb fucks don't know how the internet works and they want to regulate it????

    • What could possibly go wrong???

      When I was with a government department I went to a meeting in which all of the people involved with the web applications met the new CIO for the department. One of the first things he said was that he knew nothing about the Internet. Up until that day I had never actually felt morale drop in a room before. Then he called us interchangeable cogs and I felt the morale drop again since we were developers, managers, graphic designers, and a few other professions.

      (Turned out he m

  • Yeah, when I read those article about the DDoS I thought to myself that it was just a bit too convenient after John Oliver's show and "direction" to have folks comment. A convenient "scapegoat" if you will: i.e. Sorry, can't receive comments at this time, we've been DDoS'ed!

  • That's ok (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday May 10, 2017 @09:36AM (#54391829)
    It gets even better when you realize the DDoS attack came from IoT devices all approved and certified by the FCC :)
  • This indignation is precious in light of how people bent over backwards to rationalize the failings of the healthcare.gov site.

  • I think people here are not understanding exactly what this "comment" page is. It's not just a forum, like /., that anyone can post to anonymously. You have to enter name, address, phone number and email address, and the comments are made public. It's an "official" comment, for some values of "official". Of course you can likely fake most or all of the info you put in, but it's not quite as lame as being an online troll. And the process for getting there is somewhat obtuse, so having Last Week Tonight's lin
  • It's not hard to buy a DDOS. Why not do it for political reasons? Any foreign or domestic group could do this.

    It was a huge mistake to weaponize the free and open internet because so much of our society and democracy works on it. Our democracy is in an existential crisis as it becomes easy for a few people to censor the political process.

    It has become completely normalized that your vote doesn't matter.
    It is becoming normalized that your vote won't even be counted.
    It is becoming normalized that pe
  • I guess people could write their comments down on some paper, put it in an envelope with a stamp on it and mail it to the FCC. Sure, the latency is higher, but the bandwidth is still well above the eyeball processing power of the destination node.
  • ... it's a Republican-controlled, consumer-hostile, business-friendly FCC, so let's not assume incompetence that which is adequately explained by malice (see what I did there) as they're not really interested in us common folk. /OnlyHalfJoking

  • That the DDoS was a result of everyone on the planet showing their utter displeasure might be another matter, but this was still a DDoS, as the originating amount of bandwidth was distributed across the globe, and it resulted in a denial of service.

    Anyone else trying to pull any other fucking definition out of their ass is a goddamned moron.

  • "...the FCC has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website and ensure that every member of the public who wants to submit a comment about net neutrality has the ability to do so. Anything less is a subversion of our democracy." I think this has to be double-checked. If I recall, a website going down is no excuse for not communicating with the government or regulated entities because you still have the option of using Snail Mail. Be careful to back up claims of subversion of democracy.
  • John Oliver MUST be charged as the DDOS mastermind! Obviously, Last Week Tonight was the command and control. We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by the dullard and uninformed population! LOCK HIM UP!

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