The FDA recently announced that its servers were the target of an unprecedented cyber attack between June 8 and June 11. The cyber attack targeted a public forum discussing the potential banning of certain e-liquid flavors. 250,000 fake anti-vaping comments were published on the www.regulations.gov website, based in Ontario. The website’s mission is to survey regulatory agencies and to inform the public about new policies, especially when said policies may be deemed excessive.
The cyber attack on the FDA targeted the regulation of certain flavors in tobacco products. According to the newspaper Canadian News, the inundation of spam comments caused various problems for the paper’s internal network. The influx of fake comments also prevented FDA personnel from detecting the hackers’ IP addresses, thus compounding the issue.
FDA investigation in progress
The FDA is undertaking a long-term investigation into the hack. Due to the servers crashing, it currently seems impossible to distinguish which messages are real and which are spam messages. The FDA believes that around 60% of the messages posted were fake, and that this cyber attack was specifically targeting vaping products. The hack also targeted all regulatory public policies.
A report is supposed to be released on July 19. However, its publication faces the risk of being delayed, since the FDA has to individually analyze messages to determine whether or not they are spam.
American vapers believe that anti-tobacco associations strongly opposed to vaping are behind the attack. No anti-tobacco association has come forward to comment. Whatever the case, this is terrible news for vaping in the USA, since it is possible that the public report will be cancelled. This would leave a major hole in federal regulation procedures, which would allow local authorities to do what they please.