Feeds

Gmail exploit aids domain hijack

Web designer holds out against extortion

Boost IT visibility and business value

Web designer David Airey has succeeded in recovering his domain after hackers exploited flaws in Gmail to trick his hosts into authorising a fraudulent transfer.

Airey's woes began when he took his girlfriend for a month-long holiday to India on 21 November, a trip he mentioned in his blog. The holiday was a break from work and he only occasionally checked his emails.

All seemed well until shortly before his return when Airey received an email from a friend informing him that his website, Davidairey.com, had "disappeared".

At first Airey thought he'd made a mistake and allowed his domain name to expire and a domain poacher had snapped it up before he got the chance to renew it. Subsequent digging revealed a darker truth: hackers had posted a bogus transfer request on his web host support panel the day Airey left for India.

This, alongside an attack on a Gmail account run by Airey, allowed them to seize his domain and hold it for ransom. Initially crooks demanded $650 before dropping their offer down to $250.

Airey's host, ICDSoft, were unable to reverse the transfer. The transfer request was initially sent to Airey's Gmail account but forwarded to crooks after they used an exploit to forward the email to a third-party account. Gmail has since fixed the flaw but Airey says that users would still be wise to check their account settings to verify that they too haven't been hit by the hack.

Recovering the domain through legal action would eat up far more in lawyer's fees, perhaps a minimum of $1,500, and might take months. During that time Airey would also lose passing trade that the domain brought in. In the meantime Airey has established an alternative Davidairey.co.uk website.

While it might be a pragmatic decision to give in to fraudsters Airey vowed to fight on, rallying considerable support in the process.

Three days after reporting how a Gmail security flaw resulting (in part) in the theft of his domain name Airey was able to recover the address. GoDaddy.com staff, the registrar with who his domain had been parked, helped him undo the transfer request.

Airey's account of the web hijack and its aftermath can be found here. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?