Take 4: Trump Server — Mind the Gaps

Yesterday, I wrote “Take 3” documenting my exploration into the Trump Server data. These were the subject of a Foer Slate article (“Take 1”), and then follow-up pieces, both in Slate and elsewhere on thw web (“Take 2”).

I’m on vacation this weekend, hanging out with some long-time friends in Chicago. But I thought I’d post one additional figure based on my analysis.

The summary of the work I described previously is that there are two types of events in the log files:

  • Periodic events that occur on a regular cycle. I’m an astronomer, and for us, periodic signals are highly valuable because they provide insight into the inner workings of objects we don’t know much about. For a server, these are likely linked to automated processes.
  • Non-periodic (or aperiodic) events that occur randomly or on non-regular intervals. Notably, if we’ve identified periodic events, then we can also check how non-periodic events are related to these. These may be linked to processes that are not automated or manual, though non-periodic activity can also be automated.

New Figure — Mind the Gaps

In the figure below I show the separation between periodic and non-periodic data vs. date, as found in the Trump-email DNS log data associated with Alfa Bank. This figure highlights the trends I noted previously and I’ve also labeled and annotated a few key points in time.

Noteworthy dates or occurrences in above plot

  • A —Jul 24–25. Significant increase in periodic events. (Note that this occured on weekend after GOP Convention and before Democratic convention.)
  • B— Aug 9–17. Gap in non-periodic activity (Gap 1)
  • C — Sep 13–20. Gap in non-periodic activity (Gap 2)
  • D — Sep 23. Trump-email server shutdown and given new address

Examples of news events that may be correlated with features in the plot above

  • i — June 7. CA, MO, NJ, NM, ND, SD primaries (Minor peak in low-level activity)
  • ii — June 23–24. Trump European trip. Brexit. (Major increase in non-periodic events)

The gaps above in particular seem interesting, something to think about. What caused either one?