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Government Websites Are Redirecting People To Some Very Explicit Stuff

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Tom Hale

author

Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

The problem was not the work of a malicious anti-government attack. Volodymyr Plysiuk/Shutterstock

Within the past week, a bunch of US government websites – including ones providing information of child abductions – were redirecting users to hardcore porn sites.

The bug was first noticed on the Justice Department’s page about missing and kidnapped children called “Amber Alert”, as first reported by Gizmodo who broke the story on Tuesday. The problem was later noted on certain other web pages such as the National Weather Service's Weather.gov and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Instead of finding information of missing children or the weather, unsuspecting users would be redirected to hardcore porn sites containing videos such as “Nasty Teens in Hardcore Euro Sex Party” and “Emo Angel Smashed”.

Some of the redirect bugs for Weather.gov and the NOAA even appeared to point users towards some ridiculous-sounding websites containing beastiality. In one instance, a small NOAA back page on lightning safety appeared to redirect users towards a page with the title “sex with horse”. Other redirected pages included “Two hot Russians love animal porn” and “hd dog sex girl.”

“Amber Alert” is a government page that acts as a child abduction alert system. After law enforcement are informed that a child is missing and at risk, an emergency message is broadcast to radio stations, TV stations, and the Amber Alert website. Understandably, the sensitive nature of the subject means this bug appears in particularly bad taste. The government agencies are yet to release a public statement about the whole debacle.

Fortunately, the problem appears to have been sorted out as of April 18, 2018. So, what the hell went on? Well, the problem was not the work of some bored hackers in a smoky dorm room somewhere nor the result of a malicious anti-government attack, as you might have assumed.

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As Gizmodo pointed out, the issue is most likely to do with porn bots attempting to up the Google ranking of their porn site masters. Essentially, a flaw in the website designs means its relatively easy to alter links that lead the user to the desired website. In this instance, it appears that the porn websites were sneakily attempting to improve their chances of appearing higher up in a search engine's results.

Desperate times for the second-rate online porn industry, I guess.


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