I woke up this (Saturday, 3/7) morning to an e=mail labelled “Urgent from Confluence Networks” and addressed to myself and co-blogger Bruce Henderson. Here’s the complete text:
Your blog – http://andstillipersist.com/ – was brought to our attention and we would like to give you more information on the contents therein and correct the incorrect assumptions/conclusions that are made.
We tried to provide the below rectifications via your website – however, were not able to comment on the articles posted by you.
Kindly note that:
* The webpage for this the domain clintonemail.com (the DNS A record) points to a “Coming Soon” placeholder page that is hosted via Confluence Networks (us) for the domain registrar Network Solutions (www.networksolutions.com). Many domain registrars worldwide (including Network Solutions) use us to host the ‘coming soon’ pages for domains registered through them – because of which millions of domains resolve to our infrastructure at any given point of time.
* These “Coming Soon” pages are placeholders for domains that the owner may not have developed into full sites.
* The email for clintonemail.com (as seen in the DNS MX record) DOES NOT point to Confluence Networks infrastructure and has NEVER pointed to us. We do NOT and have never hosted the EMAIL for clintonemail.com, or that matter for the other MILLIONS of domain names that point to our infrastructure at any given point of time.
* Kindly connect with the domain registrar (Network Solutions Inc) for any details about the domain registration and the DNS for the domain in question, as we do not have any such details.
Please provide us a phone #, so that we can reach you and provide any further clarifications that you may need in order to rectify the information that you are sharing.
We will try calling you on [old phone number – my bad] (phone # from your whois info) in the morning.
Here is what I wrote back:
Thanks for the response! I’m posting it verbatim on my website and forwarding the link to the news organizations I have been talking with. But it still leaves a few question unanswered, such as:
1) Domain Tools shows that clintonemail.com had an IP address of 184.108.40.206 shortly after its creation (01/19/09) — a domain that traces to The Planet — and then nearly three years later (12/22/11) switches to another IP address (220.127.116.11) that traces to you. Granting for now that this IP address is (among other things) a parking spot for domains — which makes sense, given that DomainTools shows 1.2 million domains hosted at this IP address — why and how did that change of IP addresses and transfer happen on 12/22/11?
2) Who owns Confluence Networks and where is its actual business address? Given that so many domains — and apparently actual websites — are managed by CN, and thus many people’s browsers get redirected to your managed network, even if just to see a ‘Coming Soon’ website, I could find almost no reliable information on where your firm is located, who owns the domain, or where your ‘Coming Soon’ pages are hosted. Indeed, great effort seems to have gone into hiding that information.
3) For that matter, who wrote this e-mail and where are you located?
4) Is there any business/ownership relationship between your firm and Media.Net Advertising FZ-LLC?
5) Is there any business/ownership relationship between your firm and SuddenLink Communications?
6) The MX records for clintonemail.com are remarkably unhelpful and incomplete. I can find a brief association with a static IP address for five (5) months in 2010; and then there’s a much more recent connection with MX Logic, which does e-mail filtering, not hosting. Given your firm’s obvious global expertise and involvement with domain management and hosting, do you have any insights as to where clintonemail.com was actually hosted?
Of course, you’re under no obligation to answer any of these questions, but absent them, I am going to keep tugging on threads to see what I find. Thanks! ..bruce..
My personal suspicion is that their protestations may well be correct; to me, the e-mail carries the tone of an organization that wasn’t really involved and is desperate not to have the spotlight shining on it for something it didn’t do. But we’re still left with the question: where was the clintonemail.com server physically located and where is it now?
[UPDATE 03/07/15 0916 MST]
The anonymous contact at email@example.com send back the following response to my e-mail:
Thank you for your response.
* We provide white-labeled internet infrastructure services (all our servers are in the US), so that any large brand can incorporate our services in to their product and brand it as their own. Understandably, the business model of providing white-labeled networking services requires us to not publish our firms details on this whitelabeled brand. While we don’t publish sales info on Confluence’s website – we do publish – very clearly – the ability for anyone to connect with us wrt any issues from our network.
* Confluence for this domain has only ever acted as the placeholder parking page (just like it does so for millions of other domains), and hence we don’t have any info on it. You can verify the same by looking through any and all history of MX changes to the domain. Also, you can verify that none of these millions of domains have their MX pointing to us since we don’t provide any email service.
* Considering that even a little research will clearly show that we have nothing to do with this domain other than a coming soon page placeholder, we would not want to involve ourselves with any of this.
* The domain registrar, in this case Network Solutions would have info on domain ownership, name server changes, DNS provider or change details etc that you are requesting from us. You or anyone else that is interested could try and get it from them. We simply don’t have access to this info to be able to look in to it.
We request you to kindly not drag us in to something that we are not at all associated with at all.
If you still need further answers from us even though we have none, we can extend the courtesy of calling you to provide you with any further clarifications.
Not terribly informative or responsive, but then, they are under no obligation to be. Absent further information, I think that Confluence Networks is, for now, a dead end.
[UPDATE 03/09/15 1952 MDT]
As noted in this article by James Rosen at Fox News, I have had indirect contact with one of Rosen’s sources, who indicates that the presence of the Confluence Networks IP address cited in my earlier story was not, in fact, significant — so Confluence Networks continues to be a dead end for now.
[Here are all posts related to the Clinton e-mail issue.]
About the Author (Author Profile)Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Where is (or was) the Clinton e-mail server? : And Still I Persist… | March 7, 2015
- Curiouser and curiouser…. [MAJOR UPDATE] : And Still I Persist… | March 7, 2015