July 25, 2017

Feds Deleted California’s .Gov Domains

What started as an action to correct a hacked website from redirecting traffic to a porn domain ended up with the entire ca.gov domain being deleted.

Feds Deleted California's .Gov Domains
Feds Deleted California’s .Gov Domains

Imagine if you have a flat tire, and a federal employee stops by to help. By “help,” we mean blowing up the car with several pounds of plastic explosives.

That’s the subtlety of how the feds addressed a problem on a Marin County, California, government website. Ka-boom.

Network World editor Paul McNamara related the fallout from the incident, citing Jim Hanacek, public information officer for the California Department of Technology Services:

“The federal government saw this incorrect use of ca.gov and they made a change at a much more global level than probably was necessary and it started taking down all of our ca.gov domain,” says Hanacek. “That impacted Web access and e-mail services.”

The feds tossed off one email to someone who wouldn’t normally receive a communication of that severity. By the time the Californians realized how badly they’d been hosed by Washington, the feds were heading home after a long day’s work.

InfoWorld described how the whole mess began, after admins discovered the hack had taken place with one of its servers:

The agency spent a frustrating two weeks trying to get its Internet service provider, StartLogic, to resolve the problem, said Dianne Steinhauser, executive director of the Transportation Authority of Marin.

Then in mid-September it delegated domain name server authority for the Transportation Authority’s domain to the ca.gov name server, run by the state’s Department of Technology Services, she said.

That meant that the state’s servers and not StartLogic’s were now responsible for keeping the authoritative domain record for tam.ca.gov.

The General Services Administration has been blamed for deleting ca.gov as a valid domain. This drastic action, coupled with no reasonable attempts to communicate with their California counterparts, has to bring the competency of those administering the .gov domains into question.

About David Utter 902 Articles
David Utter is a business and technology writer for SecurityProNews and WebProNews.