Colorado Senate News.com, that rich vein of “news and information from the Senate Minority Office,” has morphed from a public relations faux-news outlet to an Internet “attack site”!
Surfing to the Web address brings notices not to open the site because it may “try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others or damage your system.”
The GOP site has been listed by browser monitors as a host to “malware” — software meant to do creeping harm to computers that come into contact with it. What’s more the site has reportedly been virus-ridden and dangerous for weeks. Most recently, the site RSS feed began showing malware warnings as well. At very least, the site ruins browsers, which unlucky visitors are forced to reinstall.
It’s unclear what tweak the webmaster may have made to transform the site into an internet pariah and under whose instructions. In fact it’s unclear whether the attacks the site launches originate with the site or whether the site itself has been a victim of attack and forgery.
It’s tempting to believe the Republican techies were just clumsy in their attempts to fish data from visitors; but it’s equally tempting to believe they cluelessly left the site exposed and were hacked.
What is an Attack Site? What is Malware?
Malware is software designed to harm your computer or steal your personal information without your knowledge. Attack Sites are Web sites that try to infect your computer with malware when you visit. These attacks can be very difficult to detect; even a site that looks safe may be secretly trying to attack you. Attackers will often hack a site to turn it into an Attack Site, and sometimes the Web site’s owner won’t even know that this has happened. You can learn more about Attack Sites and malware from stopbadware.org, a partnership among academic institutions, technology industry leaders, and volunteers committed to protecting Internet users from threats to their privacy and security caused by bad software.
It’s not the fist time the site has caused pains for the Colorado Senate GOP.
Two years ago, under pressure applied partly through Colorado Independent reporting, Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany revealed that the site came to life through a “handshake agreement” he made with Republican operative Brad Jones, the man behind conservative blog Face the State. The two sites were originally both registered to Jones.
Colorado Senate News was also forced to remove the state seal after it was made clear that it was a felony to use the seal to label anything but official state documents.
Colorado Ethics Watch also reported that McElhany broke the law in paying Jones $2,700 with contributions from a political action committee to create the site. Political contributions, mostly campaign funding, may not be used for official purposes, including building a senate party site.
“I knew how we were paying for it was eventually going to be questioned,” McElhany told the Rocky Mountain News at the time. “We decided we’d make a gift to the state out of the [political action committee funds] in the interest of getting out the truth to Colorado citizens.”
Senate Colorado News has been giving out more than the truth for years. Now they’re giving out data-mining viruses.
This is fun: For your own safety, don’t visit the site!