Feeds

Gmail exploit aids domain hijack

Web designer holds out against extortion

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
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.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.