Why has the Drudge report continually been targeted over past weeks?
(INTELLIHUB) — The Drudge Report, America’s highly trafficked conservative news aggregation site, has been knocked offline for extended periods of time over the course of the last two weeks through what is known as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks according to its founder and editor, Matt Drudge.
Since it’s founding in 1996, the Drudge Report has published hand-selected web links to national and international news articles and columns. Occasionally you’ll find the odd story written by Drudge himself, usually based off tips from his mysterious inner circle of insiders in both the media and politics.
For those who may not be aware, the site skyrocketed to fame two years later after it was the first to break the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the public, following Newsweek’s decision to hold back on the publication of the story.
As someone who has grown to love the Drudge Report and become an extremely frequent visitor to the site, I encountered the site offline on at least two occasions in the past 2 weeks. Since ’96, Drudge’s site has been the go-to hub for conservatives across the globe and when it’s down for a while, this is definitely cause for concern. Myself as well as many others are left wondering who exactly is trying to take it down.
So far, it’s a mystery — at least in terms of conclusively putting it down to a particular group.
Drudge tweeted on his verified Twitter account that an attack just 2 days before the end of 2016 was the “biggest DDoS since [the] site’s inception.”
For the not-so-technically-minded, a DDoS attack is executed by using multiple hijacked computer systems to flood a website with redundant requests, with the goal of overloading the website’s hosting server and rendering it unavailable to legitimate users such as myself.
Now, the Drudge Report is definitely not the easiest website to crack out there. First of all, hacking Drudge’s site wouldn’t do too much damage as it’s a single, minimalistic designed, HTML page crafted from a 1990’s HTML handbook. There’s basically no database or content management system. So there’s really nothing there as far as software to infiltrate. Therefore, hackers wouldn’t even bother trying to “break and enter” that way.
Even using such a method as a DDOS attack to take down the Drudge Report is definitely not a piece of cake.
Why? Because the website is already well equipped to handle high volumes of visitors and accommodate sudden spikes in traffic. Cybersecurity experts say that a website of that nature would likely employ very strong defense measures. According to site analytics firm Quantcast, the Drudge Report gets over 700 million page views and 20.5 million unique visits per month.
With that many views, it’s a highly-prized target and one that is now on the receiving end of sophisticated, targeted attacks.
“The Drudge Report has a massive readership,” said Ajay Arora, CEO and co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Vera. “Generally someone that has that kind of viewership is going to have sophisticated hosting and counter defenses against DDoS attacks.”
So, this doesn’t sound like your average script kiddie that we’re talking about. This points to some entity somewhere with highly sophisticated technology attempting to take down the news site.
Chris Weber, co-founder of the firm Casaba Security, explained that because the Drudge Report is “getting so much traffic already,” a DDoS attack would need to be on a far “greater magnitude” to be effective against it.
“It does seem unlikely that the Drudge Report would be easily taken down or slowed significantly by a standard DDoS attack,” he said.
Drudge has pointed the finger at the U.S. government, tweeting that the apparent surge in traffic which downed his website had “VERY suspicious routing [and timing].”
“Attacking coming from ‘thousands’ of sources,” he wrote on the social media platform which he sporadically uses. “Of course none of them traceable to Fort Meade…”
Drudge seemed to imply that his site was taken down in connection with “punishment” leveled against Russia for election-related hacking. The first attack on his website came just hours after President Barack Obama announced the U.S. would impose sanctions against Moscow, and the Drudge Report had previously been smeared in a Washington Post fake news story as being responsible for spreading “Russian propaganda” at the height of the mainstream media’s fabricated “fake news” narrative. This narrative is, of course, nothing less than a concerted effort to discredit and smear the reputations of independent, alternative media outlets such as Drudge Report, Breitbart News, Infowars and Intellihub in a mad scramble to regain some scrap of their (the mainstream media’s) long lost credibility.
Are all of these facts mere coincidences? I’m inclined to think otherwise.
Drudge’s reference to ‘Fort Meade’ is to a high-level U.S. military installation located between Washington DC and Baltimore. According to the base’s official website, it is “the nation’s center for information, intelligence and cyber operations.” It is home to the National Security Agency, Defense Media Activity, Defense Informations Systems Agency, the Defense Courier Service and the U.S. Cyber Command and also provides a wide range of services to all branches of the armed forces.
Perhaps due to Drudge’s success — which surpasses corporate media controlled networks such as CNN, MSNBC and so forth, that certain elements in the U.S. cyber warfare community want the Drudge Report gone as they see him as an obstacle to their evil agendas and PSYOPS. Let’s not forget that just 2 months ago, popular independent conservative YouTuber Mark Dice received a request from the U.S. military spec ops command requesting to “shadow” him for a few days in order to observe the daily operations of his one-man online media operation committed to reporting the truth.
As Dice said, the government is “scrambling” to try and figure out why “independent alternative media sources” have been so popular, so that the government can “try to restore the fake credibility” that the mainstream media once had.
Neither the White House nor the Office of the Director of National Intelligence responded to requests by media for comment in regards to Drudge’s situation. But cybersecurity experts who spoke to Business Insider discounted Drudge’s claim on grounds that the government attacking a U.S. journalist’s website would be a blatant violation of the Constitution — as well as generally improbable.
“If [Vladimir] Putin wanted to take down a website, I’m sure he could order it,” said Jared DeMott, chief technology officer of Binary Defence Systems and former security engineer for the National Security Agency. “If Obama wanted to do something like that, he’d have to go to different people. It would be a hard conversation to have.”
“Maybe if there was a military reason to have it,” DeMott added. “But domestically, there is no way.”
The usual suspect hacktivist organizations almost always take credit after a successful attack has been executed, experts said. So far, no one has claimed credit for the attacks on the Drudge Report. And obviously without any group taking credit for these attacks, the task of putting a finger on who exactly is causing this is made even more difficult.
At this point in time, all of this points to something other than some Anonymous script kiddie in his mom’s basement. Like Drudge, I’m leaning towards the premise that these series of attacks may be nothing less than the end result of the sinister motives of high-level US military cyber warfare operatives.