Attack puts agencies out of site
GSA shuts down California domain after hacker incidents
- By Trudy Walsh
- Oct 19, 2007
Some of California's state Web sites vanished temporarily early this month as the federal General Services Administration tried to limit the impact of a hacker attack.
GSA closed down the ca.gov domain for more than seven hours after someone ' the perpetrator hasn't been caught ' hacked into the Transportation Authority of Marin's Web site at www.tam.ca.gov and redirected some of the links to pornographic Web sites.
Officials at GSA, which manages all .gov domains, noticed the links Oct. 2 and promptly pulled the plug on all Web sites with a ca.gov address.
GSA sent an e-mail to a technical employee at California's
Department of Technology Services around 11 a.m. PST, said Jim Hanacek, acting deputy director at DTS' policy and planning division.
The California employee, who is responsible for routine Web events but nothing as urgent as a statewide domain shutdown, didn't see the e-mail until around noon.
Alarmed, DTS officials activated the department's emergency operations center at about 2 p.m., Hanacek said.
GSA gave the green light again to the ca.gov domain at around 5 p.m., and the systems were back to normal by 7:30.
The majority of California's Web sites didn't suddenly go dark; it was more of a rolling brownout. 'There were isolated difficulties exchanging e-mail between agencies and isolated cases of Web sites being inaccessible,' Hanacek said.
One of the challenges was managing the coast-to-coast communications necessary to resolve the problem. California was just starting to figure out the scope of the problem when GSA employees in Washington were heading home.
Luckily, there was no threat to confidential or sensitive information during the domain outage, Hanacek said.
GSA officials agreed to notify California before making significant changes in the future, Hanacek said.
In a statement, GSA apologized for 'any inconvenience to the citizens of California. ...The potential exposure of pornographic material to citizens ' and tens of thousands of children ' in California was a primary motivator for GSA to request immediate corrective action.'
Problems persist, however, for the Marin transportation Web site. The site was hit with another hack attack the weekend of Oct. 6, and Marin officials decided to shut it down Oct. 10.
At press time, the Web site displayed a notice saying it was down for maintenance.
The Marin Transportation Authority's executive director, Dianne Steinhauser, was contacted by e-mail and declined to comment at that time.
Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.