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FCC says its comment system was hit by denial-of-service attacks

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaks at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
Chris Welch / The Verge

After a John Oliver segment highlighted the FCC’s latest plans to roll back net neutrality rules, the agency’s comment system became unreachable, apparently due to a spike in traffic. But the FCC now says the issues were, in fact, related to orchestrated denial-of-service attacks.

“Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos),” agency chief information officer David Bray said in a statement. “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 agency said that the comment system itself stayed up, but the attacks “tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments.”

Oliver’s original defense of net neutrality aired in 2014, and at the time, caused the FCC’s comment system to crash due to overload. This time, he created a URL, www.gofccyourself.com, that directed visitors straight to the FCC’s comment system. The agency has since upgraded its system.

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for more information on the DDoS attacks and Oliver’s sketch.