Austrian domain registrar 'aids' phishers
Spamhaus gives black mark to Nic.at
Anti-spam organisation Spamhaus has taken the unusual step of putting an entry for Austrian Domain Registrar Nic.at on its Spamhaus Block List (SBL).
Nic.at was listed1 for "knowingly providing services" to hundreds of spam phishing domains run by a Russian cybercrime phishing gang, called 'Rock Phish'.
Rock, paper, scissors and phish
According to anti-phishing researcher Gary Warner of the CastleCops PIRT Team, 69 ".at" domain names have been used by the Rock Phisher group since 17 April.
Until April, the Rock Phish crew favoured ".hk" domains. After the ".hk" domain registrar, HKDNR, began cleaning up its act the fraudsters started to look elsewhere. Their use of ".at" domain names has increased over recent weeks.
Although the Rock Phisher gang still uses a few .hk domains, the ten oldest rock phish domains were all ".at" locales when monitored last weekend.
The international banks being phished by the 'Rock Phish' Russian cybercrime gang on sites set up through Nic.at include: USAA Bank, Washington Mutual, Nationwide, Volksbank, National City, Nordea and Commerce Bank.
Emails sent to the abuse desk at "nic.at" were replied to by the legal department, saying any problems need to be taken up with domain owners. When Warner said that the domain owner information was fraudulent and the domains were paid for with stolen credit cards, Nic.at responded by saying it needed proof that domains were registered to non-existent persons, suggesting the inability to deliver a registered letter (paid for at his expense) might do the trick.
Spamhaus said the lack of co-operation from the Nic.at registry over pulling fraudulent domain had become a serious cause of concern to it and other spam fighters over recent weeks - to say nothing of concerns from the international banking industry. After failing to get satisfactory assurances from Nic.at - even after sending someone to Vienna to speak to someone from the registry - Spamhaus added an IP address owned by the Austrian organisation to its Block List.
Other registrars, Spamhaus pointedly notes, shut down phishing domains immediately on notification.
After first refusing to remove criminal Rock Phish domains and issuing legal threats to Spamhaus, some of the offending Rock Phish domains started to become unavailable earlier this week. However it's unclear if action by Nic.at or third parties are responsible for this.
"While many of the .at phishing domains have now been suspended and some given empty zone files, some users are reporting that some of these criminal phisher domains are still live at Nic.at, and it's only the efforts of other registrars and hosting providers in shutting down other resources that have removed the websites from the internet," explained Spamhaus chief exec Steve Linford.
Linford hopes to see Nic.at "finally acting responsibly and, as other major registrars do, taking action to stop a notorious cybercrime problem". An ongoing commitment rather than one-off moves in order to get off Spamhaus's bad books are needed, he added. ®
1 Spamhaus' listing of Nic.at is a 'pointer' only. The entry is listing ...0/32 which is not an IP address, IPs ending in 0 are never in use anywhere. So the listing is symbolic.
Registrars should be blocked if they are irresponsible
Over 80% of emails are already spams. Irresponsible registrars are a significant part of this problem.
Try reporting your spam, especially the name servers registered by the same registrant as the spammed domain. You will find some registrars just go on registering domains for the same spammer, despite weeks of complaints against the registrant from many spam recipients. It's hard not to be cynical, as the registrar is being paid for domains by the spammer.
Here's some of the Registrars responsibilities in their accreditation agreement with ICANN:
"3.7 Business Dealings, Including with Registered Name Holders.
3.7.2 Registrar shall abide by applicable laws and governmental regulations.
220.127.116.11 The Registered Name Holder shall represent that, to the best of the Registered Name Holder's knowledge and belief, neither the registration of the Registered Name nor the manner in which it is directly or indirectly used infringes the legal rights of any third party."
For phished emails and websites, it is obvious that a domain is being used illegally. Even if the whois info reflects an accurate address, the use of the domain is still illegal and should be shut down by the registrar once they are informed of illegal use.
Requiring anti-spammers to prove whois info is inaccurate, when a domain is proven to be involved in spam or worse, is just giving them the run around as well as delaying action until irrelevant 99% of the time.
Most of the significant spam comes from a few major spammers. They register multiple domains every day, but often use the same registrant details for more than one domain at the same registrar. When one domain is reported and closed by a registrar the spammer just uses the next domain or more likely they are spamming with several at a time. Most spammed domains are only active for a few days as if not the registrar, an Internet Service Provider may shut down the site or it is on spam filters.
Here's the ICANN advisory on reporting innacurate whois data:
You can see from this that registrants have 15 days to reply to the registrar concerning inaccurate whois info. The ICANN tracked process for reporting inaccurate whois data allows for up to 30 days.
It's just ridiculous for NIC.AT to ask Spamhaus to prove whois data is innacurate before they will do anything about stopping phishing domains being used for theft etc
I'm not affiliated with Spamhaus, but having manually reported and tracked some of the spam I receive to understand the process better, I can understand how negligent and frustrating some registrars can be.
No wonder there is so much spam.
Unresponsive Registrars deserve to be blocked
Mr. Lackner wrote: "I think, it is better to have a domainprovider who will not shut down my domain because an obscure organisation threatened him."
Spamhaus is NOT obscure in the field of blocking spam. Spamhaus is most likely the most well-known and considered the most reasonable by those very familiar with fighting spam and frauds on the internet. Granted Spamhaus has made some mistakes, no doubt considering, but not in this case. On Spamhaus' SBL it sometimes blocks entities who have spamvertizing domains for instance, whilst at those locations no email is actually sent out from. It is to showcase an unresponsive ISP or organization.
Though I do not agree with all of Steve Lindford's comments on NANAE which seem off-colour at times, I think Spamhaus did the right thing of blocking Nic.AT. This story deserves some press coverage because phishing is a very serious crime. It is ridiculous that a registrar cannot shut down fraudulently purchased domains used by Russian rockphishing gangs. These phishing gangs are stealing millions of dollars (USD) by using these fraudulent domains on their botnets for websites and nameservers. With one domain, they may be running many hundreds of unique phishing urls spoofing many different brands at a time. It is a very large and sophisticated setup. The quicker these fraudulent domains are shutdown, the fewer victims there are defrauded. There are other registrars who have been dragging their feet: HKDNR comes to mind along with NIC.IO, Yesnic and others. I do not know the percentage of domains purchased by spammers and phishers, but I have an idea that the volume they go through is very high in number. We should applaud registrars who act quickly to take down fraudulent domains such as GoDaddy or Register.com.
Also Spamhaus has to stick to the Law!
The way spamhouse is behaving is completely out of line!
I have always regarded them as being quite professional and law-abiding,but it seems, that they have turned into a bunch of cowboys, that are trying to be a law onto themselves, but at the same time trying to avoid taking any responsibility!
This is typical spineless bullying tactics!
There are laws in Austria, and nic.at has to adhere to them!
Spamhaus has absolutely no right in performing this "do what we so, or else..." act.
The have caused so much damaged in the community, it is really sad!
I have followed this pretty much from the beginning, and spamhaus have multiple opportunities to get the domains at least deactivated, but not deleted.
And Steve just gave a "my way or no" and "not good enough" speech.
then finally you can have a look into the various newsgroups and the way he is expressing himself, is completely unprofessional.
He has always claimed to be professional, but when you look at all the evidence, he looks more like a little boy throwing a tantrum, because he doesn't get his way.
I can tell, that by now, there are probably thousands of admins, that will have taken out the spamhaus lists, simply, because they are no longer trustworthy!!!