The General Services Administration is analyzing what caused an outage of .gov websites for a few hours Wednesday morning.
Officials said the problem involved so-called DNSSEC cybersecurity measures that affected access to certain .gov sites, according to GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson.
“GSA is continuing to analyze this issue and work to ensure safeguards against it in the future,” Hobson wrote in an email, which did not specify the number of sites that were down or how many users were unable to access them.
A 2008 Office of Management and Budget memo to federal chief information officers described DNSSEC as an initiative to “provide cryptographic protections to DNS [domain name system] communication exchanges, thereby removing threats of DNS-based attacks and improving the overall integrity and authenticity of information processed over the Internet.”
GSA oversees the registry for .gov domains on the Internet for the federal government. The agency also approves applications for .gov websites from state and local agencies.
The city of Alexandria, Va., located just outside of Washington, told residents Wednesday morning that it was affected by the problem, which prevented many people from accessing government websites, including the city’s own site.
Alexandria spokesman Craig Fifer said he was able to access the city website on his mobile phone even though others had no luck on their personal computers.
He said the city notified GSA soon after getting its first complaint about the problem at 8:52 a.m. He said the problem was fixed by 11:11 a.m.