Feeds

Tiscali: breaking DNS for fun and profit

Ghosts of typo hijacking past

Top three mobile application threats

Tiscali is hijacking mistyped URLs to serve to its customers sponsored links.

The ISP started rerouting DNS errors to a page plastered with advertising yesterday. An irate customer has started a thread on the firm's forums criticising Tiscali allowing a third party to pump ads for ringtones and dating sites.

A screen grab of a hijacked DNS error page from Tiscali

Tiscali: helping you on your journey

A company rep, "Mr Tibbs" (who we last met during Tiscali's marathon email debacle earlier this year), replied that the ads (pictured) were "aimed at helping the customer on his/her journey rather than getting an error page."

The customer writes: "I urge you to withdraw the service. Meanwhile, enjoy the bad publicity, and enjoy running a business based on a pathetic, seedy business model that was proven not to work back in the 1990s."

In response, Mr Tibbs, says the "service" will be opt-out, but does not provide details.

Tiscali is not the first to attempt to squeeze more cash out of internet users this way. Verisign invoked the ire of the top level domain regulator ICANN when it attempted something similar in 2003. Verisign quickly bowed to ICANN's pressure and abandoned the system.

Despite this, Orange tentatively began gauging 2007 surfers' reaction to hijacking in April.

Hijacking error pages in this way causes a host of problems for users, and is in contravention of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards. The Internet Architecture Board has a commentary here here, and Tiscali's angry customer lists a few of the practicalities in a second post to the thread.

We are waiting for more comment from Tiscali.

Expert web users will be able to circumvent Tiscali's error hijacking by using a third party DNS list, such as OpenDNS. It's relatively simple to do and has no effect on your broadband contract, so plenty of Tiscali's 1.4 million subscribers should be able to vote with their feet.®

Bootnote

OpenDNS got a write-up in the New York Times this week. It works similarly to Verisign's 2003 hijack operation, and it serves adverts.

However, unlike Verisign's wheeze, which had free rein over the .com and .net top level domains controlled by the firm, OpenDNS is voluntary, and has a much bigger web address cache than ISPs. So is more likely to find what you were looking for than serve you a ringtone ad.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.