Ca.gov Still Dealing Drugs, but One Site Does the Right Thing

It was big news in early October when federal officials essentially deleted the ca.gov domain because the Transportation Authority of Marin Web site was hacked up to redirect to serve porn pages. While speaking with Dianne Steinhauser, executive director of the Marin transportation authority, I advised her to shut down

It was big news in early October when federal officials essentially deleted the ca.gov domain because the Transportation Authority of Marin Web site was hacked up to redirect to serve porn pages. While speaking with Dianne Steinhauser, executive director of the Marin transportation authority, I advised her to shut down the Web site until competent staff could be found to run the site. To her credit, she did just that. As of today the site now has an "under construction" front page. A Google search for ca.gov sites that are still serving drugs and pornography reveals, however, that there are still many sites, including the hapless California School for the Deaf-Riverside, that are still hacked up. In this case, CSDR is being used by US Pharm, where I was able to go all the way to the "click here to buy" screen for a generic Valium (90 10-mg pills) for only $239. I didn't buy the drugs. I don't have a prescription for Valium so I'm pretty sure it's illegal for me to actually buy drugs this way. But my point isn't that people can buy drugs this way off of the Internet. My point is that TAM got slammed for something that seems to happen every day on the Internet. I'd really like to know what's changed at the GSA, the federal agency that decided to press the figurative red button and take all of California's government sites offline over some sex and drugs (no rock 'n roll as far as I can tell, although I'm sure there is some music serving going on somewhere on a ca.gov site). My other point is that while several blog sites were quick to point out the foibles of the TAM site, it seems like almost no one bothered to *call* them, even after the site was still hacked up with (now non-working) links. And now that TAM has done the right thing, there is no news at all, except for this blog post. What are the lessons we (and the California School for the Deaf-Riverside) can learn from TAM? 1. The lower your IT budget, the more cautious you should be about putting up a Web presence. The scammers that make money off of selling drugs and porn on the Internet have better technology, more money and more motivation to use your site than you do. 2. If your organization is using a part-timer to manage your Web site, look out for the same reason listed in No. 1. 3. There is clearly a business for Web site hosters who can provide secure, simple Web sites for government agencies, nonprofits and educational institutions. 4. If your organization decides to go online, factor in the cost of trained professionals for installation and maintenance, not just the cost of the domain name and a paltry budget to throw some Web pages up for the world to see. 5. It's a pretty sad day when a school for the deaf gets used by an apparently legitimate drug dealer to sell phentermine and valium.