Georgia blocks e-mails protesting execution, claiming DDOS attack

Receiving 67 e-mails an hour might be a slow day for most organizations. But the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles deemed it a distributed denial-of-service attack and shut down traffic from Amnesty International New Zealand, whose members were urging clemency for convicted murderer Troy Davis.

Davis was executed by lethal injection late in the evening Sept. 21 in Jackson, Ga., for the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer.

Protests around the world, including pleas from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI, had urged a stop to the execution, CNN and other news organizations reported. Amnesty International New Zealand had joined the protests, organizing a Web petition for clemency that produced 800 e-mails over a 12-hour period, which works out to an average of just less that 67 an hour.

The e-mails were sent while the Board of Pardons and Paroles could consider granting clemency, which it denied Sept. 20. The Supreme Court subsequently rejected a request for a stay of execution.

The parole board’s IT department had noticed an influx of e-mails from Amnesty International’s New Zealand Web server, prompting them to accuse the group of a DDOS attack and shut down traffic from the server, National Business Review reported.

A former Microsoft official told NBR that the campaign obviously was not a DDOS attack and scoffed at the idea that it could be considered one. “The most basic e-mail server on the planet would be capable of handling 800 emails in a 12-hour period,” Brett Roberts, former chief technology officer for Microsoft New Zealand, said via e-mail.

DDOS attacks typically try to make a website or other online service unavailable by flooding it with external requests, such as e-mail messages, that occupy the site’s servers to a degree that prevents them from doing anything else, and in some cases causing the site to crash. They often are perpetrated via botnets, a collection of unknowingly compromised computers connected to the Internet.

DDOS attacks are a favorite tool of the hacker group Anonymous, which has often launched such attacks on government websites in the United States and other countries, and in the process harvested sensitive information from organizations’ networks. 

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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Reader Comments

Tue, Sep 27, 2011

Did anyone read about this guy? Prior to this act, he already had a rap sheet and had murdered someone else. I don't know if he was guilty in this particular case, but he was a bad guy in general, and that ABSOLUTELY has nothing to do with skin color, only his own actions. Please get the facts before spouting off!

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 Come on St. Louis

Come on Fred, really? You show your ignorance here by saying words like "citizen". Obviously not many people from Amnesty International New Zealand are US Citizens. Barack - Really? Are you all collectively missing the part about this dude shooting and KILLING an off-duty cop? Skin color is irrelevant, put your race card back in your pocket. Bandit - same as above - murder poor people? What about the cop?

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 Barack DC

I feel his (Troy's) pain. One can only wonder if this DDOS attack would have been tolerated (perhaps even acted upon) if the prisoner had had a lighter complexion?

Sat, Sep 24, 2011

HUmm try going to their site now.. Yes it is a DDOS attack.. Anonymous sent out a press release on the 21st say they were going to attack them.

Fri, Sep 23, 2011 bandit New Mexico

"what if the official stay of execution had to come through the same inbox?" The official stay would use another technology, called a phone. Also, the dep of Pardons would be SENDING the message, not receiving it. The Pardons board calls the warden on the phone, like what happened on Tuesday. Another reason to stay away from Georgia, or Texas for that matter. Proof of guilt or innocence is not important in those states, just the power of folks to officially murder poor people. Remember, God is Just.

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