Feds Disown All of California’s Ca.Gov Network Due to Porn Hijacking Misunderstanding
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Last month someone hacked the DNS for the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) – a California state agency which lives at tam.ca.gov – allowing the hackers to use the TAM system to redirect traffic to some porn sites.

The TAM tried in vain for about two weeks to get their then service provider, StartLogic, to assist with the problem. Then the TAM changed their name service to allow the primary ca.gov nameserver to handle their name service.


This is basically analogous to being able to choose which directory assistance service people will query when trying to look up your telephone number. If the directory assistance service you use hands out a number that actually goes to a phone sex line, you’re likely to want to change to a service that will get it right. Thus did the TAM switch their primary name service over to the ca.gov’s servers.

Now here’s where it gets complicated.

Somebody on the Federal level apparently noticed that the TAM site was redirecting to a porn site. Then they noticed that the TAM’s nameservice was originating from the ca.gov domain, not realizing that ca.gov was not only not the source of the problem, but was the new guy in town, picked to fix the problem.

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And so somebody up in the Federal General Services Administration’s (GSA) offices got the brilliant idea to pull the plug on the entire ca.gov set of domains.

Said Jim Hanacek, a public information officer with California’s Department of Technology Services, the “ca.gov domain was removed as a valid address by the federal GSA, who has an office that oversees the use of the .gov domain.” Hanacek added that, as they understood it, the Feds “were seeing signs of some redirects over to pornographic sites and that is what caused them to shut down that domain.”

Of course, shutting down a state’s entire government domain because one tiny agency’s (the TAM is a 10-person office) DNS has been compromised is not unlike shutting down all of New York City because one apartment building’s party line telephone system has been rerouted to that phone sex line. In other words, overkill.

 

Fortunately, the move was discovered within a few hours of the Feds removing ca.gov’s DNS records, and thus before the changes could propogate out to the whole Internet. Thus there were only a few, sporadic instances where ca.gov sites were inaccessible or email inoperative. It could have been much worse.

And that’s the point, really. That it could have been much works.

Taking a state’s entire state agency Internet network offline is nothing to sneeze at. That it could be done in such a cavalier and overreactive manner is, perhaps, just a tad bit disconcerting.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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One thought on “Feds Disown All of California’s Ca.Gov Network Due to Porn Hijacking Misunderstanding
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  1. things and groups like those whom wield power on the net are like large dinosaurs. something bits its tail several minuets latter the brain gets the signal.then it may turn head,may turn head,may even even eventually twitch tail.

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