The Switchboard: 162,000 WordPress sites hijacked into launching DDoS attack


A dispute between the CIA and a Senate committee that oversees it burst into the open Tuesday when Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the agency of spying on Congress. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst )

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

Is the CIA spying on congressional computers? Here’s what you need to know. "Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the Central Intelligence Agency of an "unauthorized search" of her committee's computers today — while the committee was performing oversight over the CIA itself," the Switch reports. "In doing the search, she says, the CIA potentially violated the separation of powers as enshrined by the constitution, along with federal laws and an executive order."

Zach Galifianakis is now HealthCare.gov’s biggest traffic driver. "According to a Julie Bataille, a spokesperson for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 19,000 viewers of the Galifianakis video had continued on to Healthcare.gov as of 3:30 p.m. Eastern," reports the Switch's Brian Fung. "It's unclear, however, just how big of a success story that really is. For instance, as of 5 p.m. Eastern, the 'Two Ferns' interview boasted 5.9 million views. "

An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web.   "Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what's happening at the back door, we can't have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture," father of the Web Timothy Berners-Lee told Jemima Kiss at the Guardian.  "It's not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it."

Attackers trick 162,000 WordPress sites into launching DDoS attack. Dan Goodin at Ars Technica reports on a particularly troubling exploit that allowed hackers to leverage WordPress sites into committing a DDoS attack. "The technique made it possible for an attacker with modest resources to greatly amplify the bandwidth at its disposal," Goodin writes. "By sending spoofed Web requests in a way that made them appear to come from the target site, the attacker was able to trick the WordPress servers into bombarding the target with more traffic than it could handle."

Google, learning little from Apple debacle, gets hit with its own kids’ app lawsuit. The Washington Post's Cecilia Kang reports that Google is facing a class-action suit over the Google Play store's policy for in app purchases. "In 2012, Apple changed its in-app purchase system so that a password has to be entered every time a user wants to buy virtual currency or goods in an app," Kang writes. "Now, parents want Google to close its 30-minute window for unlimited purchases within an app and are seeking at least $5 million in damages."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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Andrea Peterson · March 11