One early Monday morning in May, the FCC reported a DDos attack took down the comments section of its website. Atypical in form, the attack originated in a cloud server repeatedly pinging an open API with requests. It showed enough bot-like characteristics for CIO David Bray to qualify it as DDoS.
However, the IT department at the agency did not document the event. It has not made public the server logs, which is understandable, as they contain private personal information.
Whether or not an FCC DDoS took down the site, it came after a 20-minute diatribe by comedian John Oliver supporting Net Neutrality on Last Week Tonight. Oliver delivered a call to action to e-mail FCC officials. Whether angry e-mails took down the comments API, bots, or a combination of both, FCC officials have yet to confirm or deny.
FCC a Leader in Federal IT
The FCC site is the pinnacle of government IT systems. That isn’t saying much; most federal systems are woefully outdated. The federal government spends roughly three quarters of its budget allocation supporting legacy equipment.
FCC retired its big iron in 2007, half of its legacy servers that included two Sun EK25 enterprise servers. It left roughly 100 servers of data that FCC split between the cloud and a colocation facility. Bray lauded the open API feature in a May memo on the FCC infrastructure update.
Detractors of the federal motion to repeal Net Neutrality rules speculate that FCC blocked letters of protest closing the API. Put on tinfoil hat and ponder that the agency took down the API portal with self-inflicted DDoS, as others have.
Net Neutrality repeal would give ISPs control to selectively allocate bandwidth at its discretion. Ostensibly, ISPs stand to profit from selling bandwidth rates to content providers. Concerns over censorship and silencing dissent make it a hotbed topic for those with a long enough attention span to connect the dots.
The tech publication Gizmodo submitted a FOIA request revealed several angry letters that reached the agency. Server logs remain confidential, and with them, the truth about the FCC site outage.
Net Neutrality Repeal Underway
Repeal of Obama-era rules started with the first wave of implementation of the new FCC regulartions taking effect in May. Around the time of the FCC DDoS attack, a group of top-tier tech companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Reddit and dozens more) partnered to protest the FCC measure, but from the looks of it, their political action proved too little, too late.