Dumb & Dumber Claims About Last Week's Internet Attack (SOPA?!? Really?)

from the take-your-pick dept

As you know, last week, large chunks of the internet spent hours writhing on the ground and totally inaccessible thanks to a giant DDoS attack that appears to have been launched via a botnet involving insecure DVR hardware (which can’t be patched — but that’s another post for later). Of course, whenever this kind of thing happens, you know that some people on the politics side of things are going to come up with dumb responses, but there were some real whoppers on Friday. I’m going to focus on just two, because I honestly can’t decide which one of these is dumber. I’ll discuss each of them, and then you guys can vote and let us know: which of these is dumber.

First up, we’ve got Marsha Blackburn, who is not just a member of Congress, but (incredibly) on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which is often considered to the subcommittee that handles internet related issues. We’ve written about her quite a few times before, highlighting her efforts to block broadband competition and gut net neutrality. She’s also argued that fair use is just a buzzword and we need stronger copyright laws. Not surprisingly, she was one of the most vocal supporters of SOPA who only finally agreed to dump the bill days after the giant online protest.

And apparently she’s still upset about all that.

On Friday she went on CNN to discuss a variety of things, and the first question from Wolf Blitzer was about the DDoS attacks, and her answer is the sort of nonsense word salad that is becoming all too common in politics these days, but where she appears to suggest that if we’d passed SOPA this kind of attack wouldn’t have happened. She’s not just wrong, she’s incredibly clueless.

Here’s what she said:

Wolf, you don’t know who is behind this, you do not know if it’s foreign or domestic. What I do know is over the years we have tried to pass a data security legislation. There’s been bipartisan agreement in the House. It has not moved forward in the Senate. We also know that a few years ago we tried to do a bill called SOPA in the House which would require the ISPs to do some governance on these networks and to block some of the bad actors.

And of course, there were all of the cyberbots that took out after us that were trying to say ‘no you can’t do that you’re going to impede our free speech.’ We said ‘no we’re trying to keep the roadway clear and to keep some of these bad actors out of the system.’

So, what you have now, whether it is foreign or domestic, no one knows. No one knows who has released some ransomware, spyware, malware into the system that is cau… and bear in mind also this malware can live on your system for a year or much longer before it is detected.

And that is how you’ve had some of these extensive data breaches because the malware gets into the system, it rests there, it is pulling information and at some point, it activates. And as I tell my constituents, be careful what websites you go to, be careful what emails you open because you may be unintendedly inviting that malware or spyware into your system.

Okay, so. Almost nothing that is said above has anything to do with the DDoS attack. Not at all. Not the “data protection” bill, which is basically about requiring companies to reveal breaches to those impacted. But most certainly not SOPA, which had nothing whatsoever to do with anything having to do with cybersecurity or online attacks or DDoS. And “cyberbots”? Is she implying that the millions of people who spoke out against SOPA were some sort of fake bots? SOPA wouldn’t have done anything to stop this kind of attack at all. It had nothing to do with this issue in any way shape or form. Not that Wolf Blitzer seems to know or care about any of that as he just accepts that answer and moves on.

So that’s the first dumb response. Now the second: the IANA transition. We’ve been discussing this for years, and as we’ve explained, the transition is a good thing in taking an argument away from countries like Russia and China who have been trying to get more control over internet governance, by dropping an almost entirely superficial connection between the fairly minor IANA function and the US Commerce Dept. The transition happened a few weeks ago and nothing on the internet has changed, nor will it, because of this transition. It’s a non-story. But, Ted Cruz tried to make it a story and now it’s become a partisan thing for no good reason at all. And thus, given an opportunity, partisan sites are blaming the IANA transition for the DDoS:

Today there was a major attack on a part of the Internet that few people pay any attention to. It?s critically important though, and any disruption threatens both our prosperity as Americans, but also our freedom to communicate with each other.

This is a great reminder of why President Obama?s Internet handover plans are so threatening to our way of life.

Probable foreign attackers effectively took thousands of companies off of the Internet today by attacking a major Domain Name Service (DNS) provider: Dyn. This two-hour outage surely cost many people, very much money.

What is DNS, and why is it so important? Put simply, DNS is the system that tells people how to find you online. It converts the names of servers and sites, into numbers that the Internet Protocol can find. It?s an essential service of the commercial Internet.

And yet Barack Obama is trying to hand control of DNS over to the Chinese and the Russians. Ted Cruz has been warning people about this, and so have I. People tend to tune it out, because it sounds like a very technical, obscure issue that isn?t very important.

Well, first of all, newsflash: the transition happened three weeks ago, and Neil Stevens at Red State is so concerned about this he didn’t even notice. Damn. Sneaky Obama. Second, the hand over of the IANA functions has absolutely nothing to do with a DDoS attack or what it would take to prevent it. Yes, there are some ridiculous aspects to the DNS system, some of which are managed by ICANN. But (1) the IANA transition has nothing to do with “handing control” over to the Chinese or Russians (in fact, it’s the opposite — it takes a big argument away from the Russians and Chinese that they had been using to try to seize more control, and actually makes it much more difficult for them to take control by making sure nationstates actually have very little say in internet governance). And (2) the IANA transition has fuck all to do with DDoS attacks.

Both of these examples seem to be completely clueless, technically illiterate people using real problems (the fragility of DNS systems, the massive unsecured bot-infested systems out there, the ease of taking down important systems, overly centralized critical systems), and using them to pitch some entirely separate personal pet complaint or project. But both are completely ignorant. The only question is which one is worse:

Which excuse for DDoS attack is more ridiculous?

IANA transition
They’re equally ridiculous

Poll Maker

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Comments on “Dumb & Dumber Claims About Last Week's Internet Attack (SOPA?!? Really?)”

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Ninja (profile) says:

O wow. I’m having a hard time to decide here. I’m inclined to go for the IANA guy. Blackburn is dumb and all but at least she was talking about vulnerabilities and hard coded passwords are some type of vulnerability (I’m stretching) but Cruz managed to compare apples to platypuses.

But then again he gave us this. So.. I think I’ll vote the IANA bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

predictable coincidence

Once Clinton built up a healthy lead over Trump due to the leaked #Pussygate recording and the news media’s howling moral outrage, it’s in their campaign’s interest to basically “run out the clock” by keeping the press at bay all the way up the the election.

Whatever the reason and operatives behind the DDos attack, the timing was perfect for diverting the news media’s attention from Clinton’s embarrassing (if not outright scandalous) leaked-email revelations. Another example of perfect divert-the-media timing is the current invasion of Mosul in Iraq as well as the flareup in Syria.

Coincidence perhaps, but as usual, a very predictable coincidence.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: predictable coincidence

Whatever the reason and operatives behind the DDos attack, the timing was perfect for diverting the news media’s attention from Clinton’s embarrassing (if not outright scandalous) leaked-email revelations.

Considering that this scandal has been in the news since 2012, which DDos are you referring to? For that matter, given the ample media attention, which alternate universe are you referring to?

2016 candidates Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, who each have their own email scandals. As does Mitt Romney, who was considering running. And of course so does Jeb!. If their party had decided that any of them made a better leader than Trump, would you be declaring the DDos to be the media diverting attention from THOSE scandals?

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a great reminder of why President Obama’s Internet handover plans are so threatening to our way of life.

Whose way of life is under threat from an open Internet, That of the politicians and their corporate cronies, or that of the citizens who are finding ways to take more control over their lives?


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What is even more ridiculous about it is that ICANN started as extremely controversial in the 2000s and pretty much acted as a corporate arm of DOJ, gradually gaining independence. In 2010 when it started opening their work to some scrutiny it marked a significantly weakened political influence level. After the Snowden revelations 2013 this resulted in ICANN accepting the Montevideo Accord to avoid the split of the internet into national zones since that was what had been discussed somewhat seriously (ie. Brazil etc.).

That ICANN is now a bit less politically vulnerable towards a single state is both worrying and good:
Good since it is more difficult for said countrys government to gain “special access”.
Worrying since many of the politicians calling for a release of ICANN are the same as those calling for common standards on DPI and easier filtering of content by regulating ICANN through ITU.

Now the current solution is the lesser evil compared to continual IANA involvement that would have given other countries much better anti-american propaganda opportunities (All the rest of the world has basically argued for a split) and regulation through ITU (where the context is based on infrastructure and ISP regulation, thus lending itself to far more omniscient and embedded surveillance-by-design).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But then again. Let me point to a political conundrum:

“We don’t want big government to act through FTC.”

Since there seems to be a correlation between that stance and this one, the question is if IANA isn’t every bit as much big government regulation.

So, while IANA could rile up some american exceptionalists against foreign takeover, the stance is pretty easy to shoot at as hypocritical.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just once...

I would very much like to see an interview where it turned out that the interviewer had a hoppy in IT. Nobody ever questions these ridiculous statements that are spewed out by the people who are supposed to know more than my grandmother about the subject they regulate.
The SOPA statement is a direct lie and she thought she could get a little extra in her pocket by tying it to this attack because it was on the internet. The rest,on subject or not, is simply what everyone knows… yes, even my grandmother.

That One Guy (profile) says:

The latter by a hair

At first I thought that both were equally absurd, but after thinking about it I think the second wins out, if only just.

The first is basically whining that her pet bill didn’t pass and the terrible things that happened that would totally have been stopped had it passed, but the second displays a complete willful ignorance of reality and what has actually happened, not only sticking with the ridiculous ‘Obama is handing the internet to the commies!’ line but ignoring the fact that the transition has already happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

Breaking News, LOL. I’m with her, straight through Congressional hearings, a good raking over the coals by Mr. Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III, followed by impeachment and imprisonment. All in all that should keep the legislative and executive branches of our beloved government busy for a few years, thereby creating less government, fewer armed conflicts,and less government spending. With all of the RINO’s out there that should put an end to our currently corrupt two party system. Sounds like a win, win, for We The People.

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