The Case of Google Earth Interrupting Internet Connectivity
Posted by William Diaz on September 11, 2013
So today I received another complaint of Google Earth causing Internet Connectivity problems. In the past, I had ignored these because I was never able to recreate the issue as I did not have enough information on the method being used to cause it. This time I was a little bit more determined so I had one of the helpdesk techs show me first hand what was happening and armed with that I went off to install Google Earth on a lab and attempt to recreate. The steps to recreate are rather straight forward, just do a few searches and lots of zooming or scrolling in Google Earth until. At some point, the telltale sign that Internet connectivity had been lost would be indicated when when the Tour Guide pane became blank:
When operating normally, the Tour Guide pane displays images relevant to the place you are searching or viewing. At this point, any browser would also fail to connect to any external resource, e.g. the Internet, returning a page not found or other connectivity failure message. After what seemed like a couple minutes, connectivity would then be restored.
Some troubleshooting was already attempted earlier by pointing the browser to an unmanaged (free-for-all) proxy, which avoided the problem. My guess at that point was that our TMG was somehow cutting the connection for the workstation for some amount of time. Why? I also assumed that Google Earth is simple saturating the TMG with too many requests. Think about it, every search, zoom, scroll, and pan is basically a file-image request. Keep on doing that in a short period and you are likely to trigger some hardware or software appliance that a DoS attack is taking place. To backup my hypothesis, I turned to my latest and favorite tool, Network Monitor. I started a trace, reproduced the issue, and stopped the trace. The capture was fairly large so I needed to set a filter. Some quick searching through the standard filters revealed a filter for Http error (Load Filters > HTTP > http Error). After applying the filter, I could see the issue:
502 Bad gateway – Proxy Error (The number of HTTP requests per minute exceeded the configured limit). Some quick research pointed to this Forefront TMG article Overview of flood mitigation. In short, TMG rules may have to be modified or created to bypass flood mitigation for Google Earth. Currently, these are the two servers Google recommends for bypass:
This is also known to be an issue for home and small offices that are not behind a proxy. In those cases, it is likely the router’s firewall-DoS configuration that is the culprit.