back to article Was Russia Today hacked - or did it just forget to renew rt.com?

The website of government-owned news service Russia Today suffered intermittent downtime for two days in what some suspect is a hack. Visitors to the rt.com homepage were surprised to find a generic placeholder for Network Solutions, rather than news articles - and for about a day links to the site seemed to be broken. …

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Holmes

Web pravda?

Sorry to say so, but its articles are oftentimes better than those of the government-sanctioned "leak propagator" and neocon platform "The Washington Post". I won't lose any words about the New York Times and the War Street Journal.

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Thumb Up

Re: Web pravda?

I agree. Like the BBC world service used to be, its more or less able to report world news outside of its host nation reasonably impartially.

As opposed to the NY times which is so geared towards a single viewpoint as to be useless in terms of information.

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Bronze badge

Everything with a pinch of salt

Whilst I find myself in general agreement with the sentiments expressed above, don't forget the importance of a modest pinch of salt for all such material. I read it that both of you left that unsaid, but felt compelled, even in this reasonably erudite arena, to remind ourselves of its balancing qualities.

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Anonymous Coward

Like the BBC world service used to be ..

Yea, it was under the new-labor regime of Tony and Alastair that that BBC was finally annihilated as an independent news gathering organization.

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Gold badge

Re: Web pravda?

That's just bizarre. I'm no expert on US media, so can't comment on the biases of much of that, but Russia Today is not an unbiased news source.

For example, I've just had a look through they're coverage of the Syria crisis. Just the top 30 odd stories. There is one story mentioning mild criticism of the Russian position. And then about half and half news events reports, and pieces talking about criticism of the US/UK/French position. Whereas the BBC World Service allows a much more balanced set of views - and covers the fact that the Russia/China blocking of UN action is at least as controversial as the various Western proposals of sanctions, or further intervention.

I think I'd trust the BBC a lot more. Given that it's both a lot more free to, and a lot more likely to, criticise its own government. One of the criticisms of Putin, over the last 10 years, has been that he doesn't allow a free media in Russia. It's therefore less likely he's going to pay for one abroad either. The BBC also has the advantage of being funded at arms-length, and is therefore pretty independent, except perhaps when it comes to charter renegotiation time...

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BBC

Whilst I agree with your comments on relative independence etc, I find that the BBC has for some time become slanted with a growing bias towards the US, something that I am not inclined towards personally. There seems, imho, an unhealthy and unbalanced volume of coverage devoted to US elections, culture and opinion. So I takes me pinch of salt more and more with the beeb and it doesn't taste as good as it did some years ago.

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Re: BBC

I've only been listening to the World Service for a bit over 10 years, so can't comment on changes before that. But I don't recall there being any less coverage of the USA back then. You would expect the English language service to spend a good deal of time on US and UK internal politics and culture. Although I would say there's very little coverage of Aussie, Kiwi and Canadia - I think we get more internal South African news/politics than the 3 of them put together.

Whether it's changed or not, you can't fault the World Service for giving major coverage to the US - although I agree, I could probably stand a little less election coverage. Presidential elections are very important though, there are a lot of international situations that will be affected, depending on who's in the White House, and their policies. For example the Palestinian situation can probably only be resolved when the US President, Israeli government and Palestinians all have the time, political capital and desire to find a solution. Other world leaders can have an influence, but vastly less - and there are probably no others that a solution can't be achieved without.

Whether you like it or not, Hollywood is the most successful film industry in the world, and the US music scene is also globally huge. With the largest economy as well, any international coverage that doesn't spend a lot of time on US issues, is doing a bad job.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBC

Yes, they have an unfortunate tendency to not mention which country they are talking about, whether it be events in USA or Afghanistan or Iraq...... and gloss over the fact that these are foreign countries... and always seem to report with apparently great surprise that some tremendously messy bad thing happened in one of the last two! Surely not!

They also seems to do reports on "Mosul" or "Helmand" as if they were near Newcastle or something.

And as if it were perfectly normal that thousands of whiteys armed to the teeth just happened to be wandering around there.

Perhaps they should remember even for practical reasons, that actually many towns cities and areas have the same names in UK and USA .... which could cause much confusion - "Mr Obama has just visited Boston" - cue lots of confused Lincolnshire farmers ....... ;)

They also tend to report sports without mentioning which sport it is they are talking about (yeah, I know it's ALWAYS bloody football), and quote club stadium names without really much reference to where the heck they might be located. Not much good if you might want kids to take an interest. Same applies to motorsport coverage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBC

Au contraire, most observers think the EU economy as a whole is slightly larger than the US.

Which is what you would expect, given the amount of people, and that most are developed economies.

But as per normal, not a word about what might be happening in any of those countries next to UK, especially if it's good things! I suppose laziness in not wanting to use any other languages has something to do with it.

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Re: BBC

"Au contraire, most observers think the EU economy as a whole is slightly larger than the US."

The East Asian economy is bigger than the US economy too. What's that got to do with the price of fish? The EU doesn't have a single economy. I think events in the Eurozone crisis are rather eloquent proof of that...

However the World Service do give decent coverage of Europe. They've got lots of correspondents there, hence it gets lots of airtime. There's a good reason for all the current bad news stories. There's lots of bad news. The World Services gives decent political and social coverage of Europe, probably because there are lots of reporters there, you get many pieces on programs like 'From Our Own Correspondent', as well as lots of business news. Coverage isn't quite so good for Latin America and Asia though. Except the Middle East and maybe China and India. Africa is probably covered out of proportion to the rest of the world. I guess this is down to organisational inertia, from when it was all set up. Got to have good coverage of the Empire, after all...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBC

Just that the US economy size is used as an excuse to give us wall-to-wall coverage of their news, making out it is very much larger than Europe's, when that isn't the case.

When in fact we are nearer to Europe and more connected also. In terms of technical standards, laws, telecoms, power systems, passports, driving licences.

Plus we have hundreds of years of shared culture, art, linguistic and genetic roots, music and literature.

And the Romans before that.

Could be argued the US economy isn't' very integrated either, individual cities/states being allowed to go near bankrupt etc.and that''s supposed to be a single economy, regardless of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Madoff, Goldman Sachs, AIG, CDS/bad mortgage bubble being bailed out or whatever.

We don''t get wall-to-wall in-depth coverage of Asian news with their big economy? Parts of it are just as far away....

Another thing I don''t see is coverage of normal everyday life in USA. You know, ordinary people going to the store, or school or whatever. It''s like they don''t exist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBC

"I've only been listening to the World Service for a bit over 10 years"

You seem to have missed the previous comment by dgharmon, saying "Yea, it was under the new-labor regime of Tony and Alastair that that BBC was finally annihilated as an independent news gathering organization."

While I would not like to imply causality in any way, I think he got the timing about right. I used to listen to the World Service in the 90s, and there was something strangely comforting about it back then when, in the middle of the desert (as I was then), you would hear "This is London" matter of factly announced on the hour. It made you feel a bit closer to being a civilised person for a moment. Besides that, most of the content could actually be stomached and sometimes even enjoyed (although personally, I always found Radio Moscow, especially in the 80s, much more educational and interesting, followed by the Voice of South Africa, which also had great science and technology content).

I tuned in on the World Service the other day (it's on FM on many big cities in Europe) and it lasted for all of about three seconds, just the time to say "Mr. Romney..."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBC

"Another thing I don''t see is coverage of normal everyday life in USA. You know, ordinary people going to the store, or school or whatever. It''s like they don''t exist."

Very good point. And when you do get it, especially outside the US, it's so embarrassingly stereotyped...

And that's precisely Al Jazeera's strong point: their focus on the social issues of the "developing" world. Hell, even the Chinese, shifty as they are, are doing a better job than any major Western news outlet on that front.

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Big Brother

Re: Everything with a pinch of salt

Scott Broukell,

I use RT more often than BBC , and definitely more often than any American News sites.

I find things on RT that are carefully ignored by BBC and American sites, like Bahrain.

As Bahrain is has an American Naval Base as part of their encirclement of Iran , it is not surprising that the Yanks ignore human rights viloations there.

The different perspective gives me a truer picture of what goes on in the World.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Web pravda?

Well you''d hardly expect them to be cheering on the folks trying to deprive the Russkies of their naval base at Tartus in Syria? Including paying foreign Jihadists to destabilise an entire previously stable and secular country?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Like the BBC world service used to be ..

And it, and it''s journalists were firmly "embedded" in ..... :P

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BBC

Actually quite surprised at how decent the Chinese news stuff could be, obviously the usual provisos about a pinch of salt, plus sometimes translations of fish names etc can be hilarious.... Harbin looks interesting, brutal winter, but then I guess that helps the Ice Festival.

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Silver badge

Domain renewal

Whois info for rt.com:

Record expires on 22-Sep-2021.

Record created on 23-Sep-1991.

Database last updated on 10-Sep-2012 04:46:02 EDT.

Yep, they forgot to renew it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Domain renewal

"Yep, they forgot to renew it."

Good catch. I am a bit disappointed that I had to read that in the comments section rather than in the body of the article, which was the usual "here's the latest unsubstantiated rumour that I couldn't really bother to research" rubbish you get from certain authors.

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Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Domain renewal

None of the data in that implies they forgot to renew it:

Nobody registers a domain for 9 years, it'll be 10 years from last year. Also it would have expired on the 22nd of this month even if they did which would give them at least two weeks before the spam started.

Why do I get a feeling this actually has something to do with godaddy?

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Linux

Richard Stallman

They had a really good interview with Richard Stallman last month:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFMMXRoSxnA">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFMMXRoSxnA</a>

I say really good. I mean the interviewer was clearly out of his depth and was clearly in a blind panic concerning what Stallman was saying politically, but that's partly why I found it so amusing... >:)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Richard Stallman

Isn''t Stallman considerably further left than Russia - certainly much further left than the Oligarchs :P

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Anonymous Coward

When I looked a week ago

www.rt.com was delegated to different name servers than rt.com

that yielded CNAMES that eventually landed on

a name server that had no entry.

However, rt.com itself resolved but when accessed

via a web browser redirected somewhere that

didn't work. But... using telnet you could successfully

retrieve a web page they contained valid

content.

So it looks like some JavaScript within

the first page caused it to effectively redirect to

a non working one.

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Silver badge

It wasn't down

It was perfectly functional. The problem was that for many people their default DNS provision mapped the domain to the Network Solutions site (as did mine).

However, providers like OpenDNS and Google Public DNS were correct throughout this and it was a trivial matter to switch and look at the site.

It was fascinating to see the impact this problem had on conspiracy sites all over the world - most people immediately thought that it was a plot by 'The Man', or whoever, to silence RT.

Not that I look at conspiracy sites normally, mind : it just seemed that no-one else gave a rat's arse.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It wasn't down

What do ou mean by default DNS provision??

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Silver badge

Re: It wasn't down

By "default DNS provision" I mean whatever default the user has setup for DNS server IP addresses. I am talking mainly about private users, not businesses. In most cases, I imagine it is whatever the ISP provides, and for many people they are automatically assigned when connecting to the ISP.

I normally stick with my own ISP's servers, but do change to OpenDNS if I have difficulties (if only temporarily).

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Anonymous Coward

Domain expiry

They may have simply extended it by many years

doesn't mean it had expired. I'm not sure but

I thought I checked that before and it was also

not expired. In any case the address record

for rt.com was resolving and the server was

dishing up valid rt content.

It did include lots of extern content. Ad trackers

that sort of thing. Maybe one if those sources

had been hacked and not rt.com itself?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Domain expiry

Yeah I cant imagine they would have paid for x years, oh and the additional 10 days, on the domain...

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Anonymous Coward

DNS - I don't think so.

rt.com resolved correctly and telnetted HTTP yielded correct rt.com content. My web browser (If I remember correctly) showed a 304 not found error. I would expect (Without re-testing this) that javascript served from some other site should not be able to redirect the main page to another site due to CSRF protections, so any redirect/other error should have come from the rt.com webserver itself most likely. There were reports of it working from different locations.

So dns was not the problem, it had something to do with browser access and possibly where it was accessed from. So maybe the website was configured to serve different content based on where the request came from and the User-Agent of the browser? In which case it was likely just a bug in this configuration.

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Anonymous Coward

Ahh www.rt.com

Just noticed the www. in front. www.rt.com was delegated by rt.com's own name servers so other name server. rt.com resolved to the webserver fine, but had other problems. The name server that www.rt.com was delegated to yielded a CNAME to yet another name server, effectually the trail of name servers stopped and the final one did not have either a CNAME or an A record for www.rt.com.

But this is not a case of rt.com not renewing a domain name but rather it farmed off the dns for www.rt.com to some external company and that company pulled the records for it. (I can't remember which company was handling the delegation but it was different from the rt.com one, but as I said earlier rt.com had problems as well, just different ones).

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Hmmm no great loss

From what I've seen RT appears to be the stuff from 911truthers, anti-vacinnationists, and David Icke that Alex Jones baulks at.

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Pint

This is the rt.com that considers Alex Jones/infowars to be a credible source? Shame it didn't vanish up its own arse!

Pint coz well...its a pint innit!

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Judging by a quick scan of the site, they may have decided all that was total balls as well, like everyone else. :P

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Bronze badge

They didnt think that a couple of years ago. They had David Icke, Alex Jones and their whole cohort on there as "news". Plus, Russia Today is about as impartial as VOA or BBC. If you think RT isn't the same sort of Government Sanctioned mouthpiece you're crazy, they're just a lot more paranoid and prone to conspiracy theorist delusions.

If you want decent Russian news ITAR-TASS is about the best. Its still Russian Government slanted, as are all of their news outlets, but at least its verifiable.

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Anonymous Coward

Just saying, it doesn't seem to have any of that stuff anymore from when I checked it quickly yesterday, and yeah, I saw lots of that kind of thing there a couple of years back too. Of course everyone knows it is a Govt thing, plus they let Mr Assange speak as well, that''s going to wind a lot of people up too ;)

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