FCC: That DDoS Attack We Suffered Actually Wasn't Real

In May 2017, the FCC blamed a purported DDoS attack for taking down access to the commission's online comment section during the net neutrality debate. But on Monday, FCC chairman Ajit Pai admitted the attack was based on bad information.

The FCC has admitted that last year's DDoS attack against the commission's website actually never happened.

The federal regulator originally claimed that a DDoS attack had crippled access to the commission's online comment system during the net neutrality debate. But on Monday, commission chairman Ajit Pai said the claims about the cyber attack were based on "inaccurate information."

"This is completely unacceptable," Pai said in a statement that blamed the FCC's former chief information officer David Bray for supplying the bad information. Pai went on to claim he had no knowledge that the DDoS attack claim was likely false.

"I'm also disappointed that some working under the former CIO apparently either disagreed with the information that he was presenting or had questions about it, yet didn't feel comfortable communicating their concerns to me or my office," he said.

Pai made the statement when the Office of the Inspector General is about to release a report about its investigation into the sham DDoS attack. Pai's statement made no mention of what actually caused the site to go down back in May 2017. But the incident occurred right when comedian John Oliver aired a segment urging his viewers to oppose the FCC's then-upcoming vote to end the net neutrality protections. Oliver went as far as to create a website redirecting his viewers to the FCC's comment section.

At the time, the FCC blamed the disruption on a DDoS attack, as opposed to the more probable explanation: That resistance to the net neutrality vote was so high it overwhelmed the site's servers, forcing a shutdown. It didn't help that the FCC also neglected to provide evidence of the attack. This triggered net neutrality supporters to accuse the FCC of using the incident as a way to cover up for the commission's failure of building a proper online commenting system.

On Monday, Pai said he was focused on fixing the FCC website. "It has become abundantly clear that (the commenting system) needs to be updated. I'm therefore pleased that Congress last week approved a reprogramming request that provides us with the funding necessary to redesign (it)," he said in his statement.

The inspector general hasn't released its report on the DDoS attack investigation. But Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said: "The Inspector General Report tells us what we knew all along: the FCC's claim that it was the victim of a DDoS attack during the net neutrality proceeding is bogus."

"It's unfortunate that this agency's energy and resources needed to be spent debunking this implausible claim," she added.

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