FCC says it was victim of cyberattack after John Oliver show

FCC says it was victim of cyberattack after John Oliver show
© The Hill screengrab

The Federal Communications Commission is claiming its website was hit by a cyberattack late Sunday night.

The attack came shortly after comedian John Oliver urged viewers of his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” to file comments on the site in support of the agency’s net neutrality rules, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is aiming to roll back.

Oliver directed his viewers to the URL gofccyourself.com which goes to the page allowing people to file comments on the net neutrality proceeding.

The website went down shortly after Oliver’s segment. Initial reports linked the downed website to the volume of comments, but the FCC is disputing that connection.

“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.

On Monday morning, the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) was slow to load the net neutrality rule docket.

An FCC spokesman did not immediately respond when asked by The Hill how the agency determined it had suffered a DDoS attack.

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