Bush Site Blocks Some Foreign Access

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2004-10-27 Print this article Print

U.K.-based Netcraft reports that the Bush re-election site is showing an error message to some overseas users, who could include military service members or citizens who are abroad. Campaign staffers blame a technical problem but won't provide specifics.

A British Internet services site has charged that the Bush re-election campaign has begun blocking access to the site by users outside the United States. Netcraft Ltd. based in Bath, England, on Wednesday reported that efforts to reach www.georgewbush.com resulted in an error indicating that their access was denied. The company also reported that attempts to access the Web site from within the United States were degraded. Graphs distributed by the company show spikes in response time that would indicate delays in responding due to traffic or reasons related to attacks on the site. Following the Netcraft announcement, a number of sources have speculated that this was an attempt by the Bush campaign to exclude people from outside the United States, including citizens traveling or living abroad, or military service members stationed abroad. The company also reported that other non-U.S. offices (including those in Canada) were able to gain access to the site.
What does the site blockage say about the Bush campaign? Click here for a column.
Despite the speculation, analysis by eWEEK.com shows no evidence of a wholesale attempt to exclude foreign users. In addition, comments from sources within the Bush campaign staff indicate that the Web site instead is experiencing some sort of technical problem. But the campaign has not provided an official explanation as to why non-U.S. users might be excluded, or even if the campaign is doing this. It is a normal security practice, however, to exclude packets from some origins—including entire countries—as a defensive measure against a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack. Some security tools, such as eSecurity (from the company of the same name), feature the ability to determine the country of origin for an attack, and then block packets until the attack has passed. The traffic charts provided by Netcraft are consistent with such an attack. Efforts to get an explanation from the Bush campaign regarding the blocking of foreign sites have been unsuccessful. But the campaign has told eWEEK.com that a full explanation is forthcoming. Check out eWEEK.coms Government Center at http://government.eweek.com for the latest news and analysis of technologys impact on government practices and regulations, as well as coverage of the government IT sector.
Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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