Shortly after House Democrats ended their historic overnight sit-in to demand a vote on gun-control legislation, 19 of the members’ official websites went down.
The sites have been down for many days now and the contractor operating the sites told POLITICO that hackers are to blame.
A company called DCS manages most of their websites. Evidently they are using Joomla, a system that has suffered from serious security flaws.
According to DCS’s director of congressional services, Gordon Stanton, hackers uploaded something called a “web shell” to the database of one of the lawmaker’s websites. After the file was uploaded they could use the website to launch a coordinated attack against the other sites.
Coincidentally, the Department of Homeland Security has been warned of these kind of attacks as they can be extremely difficult to detect.
Thankfully, no sensitive data is stored on these members‘ websites. They contain press releases, biographies, issue pages, and other public content. Also, the hacked pages are on the U.S. House of Representatives official House.gov website so the members’ personal sites are not affected.
DCS and the House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) are currently working together to restore the downed sites. They aim to have them back up and running by close of business tomorrow, Thursday, June 30.
The web attack started 1:05 p.m. last Thursday when the House Democrats were leaving the floor.
Republicans have criticized the protest and called it “a political stunt,” but who’s behind the attack remains to be seen. The motive is also still unknown.
According to THE HILL, the 19 downed sites belong to:
“Reps. Jim McDermott (Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Bill Keating (Mass.), Richard Neal (Mass.), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.), John Carney (Del.), John Larson (Conn.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Filemon Vela (Texas), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Alan Grayson (Fla.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Lloyd Doggett (Texas) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.).”