US parole board accuses Amnesty NZ of DDoS attack, blocks server

UPDATED: Amnesty emails "most definitely not" DDoS attack, from former Microsoft CTO and current director of BusinessIQ Brett Roberts. Troy Davis has been executed after the Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution.

UPDATED:  Troy Davis has been executed after the Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay of execution.

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Thursday 1.30pm:  Amnesty NZ's emails petitioning for clemency for Troy Davis were "most definitely not" a DDoS attack, Brett Roberts has said.

The former Microsoft NZ Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and current director of technology and business consultancy BusinessIQ said the US-Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) defined a DDoS attack as when an attacker "attempts to prevent legitimate users accessing information or services."

He said using this definition, the Parole Board was "drawing a very long bow indeed", since the intention of the emails was to petition for clemency, rather than prevent legitimate use of the server.

Amnesty NZ said it received 800 signatures in under 12 hours before its petition was blocked by the Board's server.

"The most basic email server on the planet would be capable of handling 800 emails in a 12 hour period (and if we assume the period is actually 10 hours that's only one email per 45 seconds which is positively pedestrian when it comes to email traffic volumes)," Mr Roberts said in an email.

Mr Roberts said that while it was arguable that sending 800 clemency request emails was not going to result in clemency being granted, it was "most definitely not" a DDoS attack.

Mr Davis has been granted a temporary reprieve by the US Supreme Court, Amnesty NZ has said.

 

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The Georgia Parole Board has blocked all emails from Amnesty NZ’s sever following an accusation of a DDoS attack.

Amnesty International New Zealand recently launched a campaign to halt the execution of Troy Davis, an American citizen convicted of killing a police officer. 

The campaign involved asking New Zealand members to email the Parole Board calling for clemency due to concerns about Mr Davis’ culpability.  The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency on Wednesday (NZ time).

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand chief executive Patrick Holmes said the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles’ IT department had noticed a number of emails from Amnesty International NZ’s web server, which caused them to accuse the organisation of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack.

DDoS attacks generally flood a website with traffic, often disabling the site due to overload.

These attacks are often associated with the online hacker collective Anonymous, who earlier in the year threatened to bring down the Internal Affairs website with the same method.

Amnesty NZ’s web server administrator alerted the organisation of the Board’s accusation, since the emails did not fall under the definition of a DDoS attack, Mr Holmes said.

The Board then informed Amnesty that it had blocked all emails originating from its server, he said.  This included all petitions signed through Amnesty NZ’s site.

The Board was not immediately available for comment.

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