Sunday, April 1, 2007

The White House email controversy: who runs GWB43.COM?

So now we know that when you send an email to someone on the GWB43.COM domain, your email will travel to a Postfix server operated by SMARTECHCORP.NET. So who is SMARTECHCORP.NET?

Understanding SMARTech Corporation

The easiest way to find something out about someone is when they make it publicly available. So we pointed our browsers to http://www.smartechcorp.com and did some reading. As Figure F shows, SMARTech Corporation is a small company located out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

FIGURE F

Here's some information about SMARTech Corporation. (click for larger image)

As the article on their Web site states, SMARTech Corporation is owned by Jeff Averbeck. The company had twelve employees as of 2004, the date of the article posted, and also hosts GEORGEWBUSH.COM and GOP.COM.

In fact, Averbeck's SMARTech Corporation hosts a lot of GOP-related email and Web sites. We did a lookup to see what other domains seemed to run on the same mail server with GWB43.COM, as shown in Figure G.

FIGURE G

This large screenshot shows some interesting domains on the same mail server. (click for larger image)

From this, we can see that SMARTech also hosts mail on what appears to be the same server for a variety of domains, as shown in Table A.

Table A: Email domains hosted on apparently the same server
Domain(s)Description
GEORGEALLEN.COMGeorge Allen is the controversial former Republican Senator who lost his seat, in part, due to the use of a racial slur "macaca" in his campaign
BOBCORKER.COMBob Corker is the junior U.S. Senator from Tennesee. He'll show up again, later in our story.
NEWT.ORG, SPEAKERGINGRICH.COM, SPEAKERGINGRICH.NET, SPEAKERGINGRICH.ORG, GINGRICHGROUP.COM and GINGRICHPRODUCTIONS.COMAll are operated on behalf of Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the House.
GOP.COM, GOPEMAIL.COM, REPUBLICANVICTORYTEAM.COM, RNC.ORG, RNCMAIL.ORG, and RNCCHAIRMAN.ORGThese are just a few of the GOP-related domains SMARTech seems to operate.
OHIOGOP.ORGThis is the Ohio Republican Party Web page. Ohio, of course, figured prominently in debates about the 2004 Presidential election.

Here at ZATZ, we use a neat little anti-phishing toolbar from Netcraft, a company that's been tracking hosting since the early days of the Internet. One of the useful things about Netcraft's toolbar is it helps us see what ISP hosts the domain for a given server.

As Figure H shows, we're comparing the hosting ISP for our own DominoPower Magazine in the top half of the image with the hosting ISP for the SMARTech Corporation, shown in the bottom half. As you can see, the toolbar shows the fabulous Prominic.Net Inc as our ISP and SMARTECH CORPORATION as SMARTech's own ISP. This means it's very likely SMARTech is running its own network feed and physically hosting its servers and Web sites at its own facility (rather than co-locating the machines at a bigger facility).

FIGURE H

It looks like SMARTech hosts their own servers. (click for larger image)

According to its "Contact Us" page, SMARTech is located at 801 Broad Street, Suite 220 in Chattanooga. Although I've had some very pleasant visits to Chattanooga, it was a long time ago, and I don't remember the area particularly well. Fortunately, Google Earth can give us a bird's eye view of where these servers seem to be located, as you can see in Figure I.