Vulnerabilities / Threats
01:54 PM
Connect Directly

ICE Confirms Inadvertent Web Site Seizures

Authorities are reviewing what happened to prevent a similar misstep in the future.

Top 10 Government Stories Of 2010
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 10 Government Stories Of 2010

A child pornography investigation led to the unintentional temporary shutdown of thousands of lawfully operating Web sites last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed.

"During the course of a joint DHS and DOJ law enforcement operation targeting 10 Web sites providing explicit child pornographic content, a higher level domain name and linked sites were inadvertently seized for a period of time," an ICE spokepserson said in an e-mailed statement. "Those sites were restored as soon as possible to normal functionality."

The execution of seizure warrants against the 10 Web sites was lauded by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and other officials earlier this week.

News of the collateral damage arising from the domain seizure was first reported by TorrentFreak, an online news site focused on copyright issues. The report claims that 84,000 Web subdomains associated with -- a shared domain operated by -- were rendered inaccessible.

A spokesperson for's Free DNS service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Affected sites were down for about three days, during which time visitors would have seen a notice stating that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security had seized the domain and that advertising, distribution, possession, transportation, and receipt of child pornography is a federal crime.

The government-directed denial of service prevented about 1000 people in their attempts to view child pornography through these non-affiliated sites, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The agencies involved are reviewing the circumstances of the seizure operation in an effort to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, while careful to acknowledge the legitimacy of removing child porn sites, has condemned the collateral damage to Web sites that were operating lawfully. The cyber rights organization urged legislators mulling expanded copyright enforcement powers not to enact rules likely to result in similar harm when applied with insufficient precision.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
E-Commerce Security: What Every Enterprise Needs to Know
The mainstream use of EMV smartcards in the US has experts predicting an increase in online fraud. Organizations will need to look at new tools and processes for building better breach detection and response capabilities.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio