Giles-Parscale, the digital agency behind DonaldJTrump.com, protected President Trump’s campaign site with Cloudflare.
Mitigated an average of 500,000 attacks per day
95% Bandwidth Savings
Donald Trump and Giles-Parscale
The 2016 US presidential election, fueled by an unprecedented number of web page views, social media posts, and online advertisements, set a new bar for digital elections. Donald Trump, leading this trend, ran a highly digital, data-driven campaign for president. He hired Giles-Parscale, a leading national digital agency based in San Antonio, Texas, to run his website, advertising, and, by the end of the campaign, much of the overall digital strategy.
How does a San Antonio, Texas based digital agency deliver a successful presidential campaign with the pressure of a global spotlight? “It’s hard for one company to have all the talents that are needed to do everything at such a high scale and level of deliverability,” answered Brad Parscale, President of Giles-Parscale and Digital Director of Trump’s campaign. “It also takes a team that knows how to fit the pieces together and bring in the right vendors. Cloudflare was one of those vendors, which helped us keep costs low, while delivering high quality results at scale.”
On his path to victory, Donald Trump caught the attention of the globe— his campaign website, www.donaldjtrump.com, offered the world his current political platform, volunteer opportunities, and the ability to contribute donations to the campaign, but it also opened up the possibility of malicious cyber attack. As with anything political, negative events like website downtime or a hacking compromise, could be seriously detrimental to the success of the campaign, plus with this scale of attention, Giles-Parscale knew Trump’s website would face a barrage of attacks and finding an advanced security partner would be crucial to delivering high quality results at such high stakes.
DonaldJTrump.com saw 226,500,000 attacks between August 2015 and November 2016, an average of 500,000 attacks per day, and not one of them was successful. Ranging from attacks targeting Wordpress vulnerabilities, to SQL injection, and even attacks from Anonymous and various Botnets, DonaldJTrump.com saw virtually every type of attack on the Internet—Cloudflare blocked all of them.
Giles-Parscale set up a number of redundancies and backups to ensure that the campaign site could be swiftly brought back online in the case of an unexpected failure. They also worked with Cloudflare solution engineers to fine tune the site protection and ensure uptime in the case of an unexpected surge in traffic.
“We were able to isolate a majority of the attacks we saw to specific regions, and we could block most of those attacks by using the Cloudflare IP Firewall to put captchas in front of IP’s from specific countries.“ said Victor Gutierrez, CTO at Giles-Parscale.
Blocked Requests for DonaldJTrump.com
In September of 2015, when Donald Trump began to rapidly climb in the Republican Primary polls, Giles-Parscale upgraded President Trump’s campaign site to Cloudflare’s Enterprise offering for advanced DDoS protection, increased connection limits, and enterprise level support. “We were initially using Cloudflare to obfuscate our IP addresses and provide basic DDoS mitigation,” said Parscale. “When we started to get more attention we upgraded to the enterprise plan which gave us advanced protection and caching that helped me efficiently run the site through the general election.”
In addition to security, Giles-Parscale also enjoyed the benefits of Cloudflare’s performance and optimization features. “We used Cloudflare’s DNS to route traffic through inexpensive load balancers and used Page Rules to have a fully static website despite AWS TTL’s (Time-to-Live). Those features plus Cloudflare’s caching were huge for keeping bandwidth costs down,” explained Parscale. From December 2015 to January 2017 Cloudflare saved DonaldJTrump.com 324TB, or 95%, of their total bandwidth consumption, while increasing site performance. To do this, Cloudflare’s CDN distributed and served www.donaldjtrump.com’s content from over 100 points of presence around the world, lightening the load on Trump’s origin servers and while serving content to end users quicker by minimizing geographic latency. Parscale noted, “at the end of it all Cloudflare saved us more than $250,000 on servers, bandwidth, personnel, and other security measures. I loved that we could pick up the phone at any time, 24 hours a day, and have a Cloudflare representative help us.”