Porn Redirects Blamed for Near-Shutdown of Calif.’s Sub-Domain

Rhett Pardon
SACRAMENTO — A porn ring based in Eastern Europe evidently is to blame for a near-disastrous shutdown of California’s sub-domain that would have taken all of the state’s government websites offline.

The statewide shutdown came so close, that it reportedly prompted a call by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to President Bush.

The problem began in Marin County after hackers apparently compromised the county transportation authority's website on Tuesday, redirecting traffic to numerous adult sites.

In response, someone at the U.S. General Services Administration saw “inappropriate activity” and ordered the removal of .ca.gov from the root directory, Jim Hanacek, an official at the California Department of Technology Services, told XBIZ.

The GSA’s duties include responsibility for all the of the .gov sites, of which .ca.gov is a sub-domain.

The GSA ordered the suspension because the breach had the potential to expose children to pornography but has since revised its policy, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Milliken said.

The shutdown began at 4 p.m. Tuesday and the network was back up by 7:30 p.m.

The suspension of its domain name prompted California to activate its emergency operations center for technology failures. But if the order by California officials had not been reversed, it would have cut off access to every state, county and local government website in California.

“It caused a cascading effect for the state’s sites, including the Highway Patrol,” Hanacek said. “It was kind of like a rolling blackout.”

The Eastern European ring that replaced the site with porn still has not been identified, Hanacek said.