Dear Hull, all your typos are belong to Karoo

Something fishy about DNS hijacking

Hull's broadband monopoly, Karoo, has joined the ranks of Verisign, Tiscali and Orange in redirecting net users' mistyped URLs to pages displaying advertising.

Karoo, part of the K-Com group, is doing the hijacking in partnership with Ask.com.

Instead of seeing a plain error, customers are seeing their spelling mistakes pumped into the Ask search engine. In exchange, K-Com gets a cut of advertising revenues from the results.

The firm's technical support workers are telling customers that the "service" is only a trial. If they query the redirects, unhappy business and consumer users are told they can opt-out and given alternative DNS server details.

The trial began on 17 March. It intercepts domain queries that are non-existent in Karoo's own cache.

Typo-hijacking like this has a unpopular history, beginning with Verisign's first attempt to gouge revenues from its control of the .net and .com top-level domains in 2004. ISPA, the ISP trade association described Verisign's move as a "scandal" and accused the firm of "presumption that they own the Internet". K-Com is a member of ISPA.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We know that some people don't like it and they can opt out of the trial. Others find it useful."

We asked why Karoo had not made the trial opt-in if the service is so useful. "Well, we could do it either way," the spokeswoman said. "We'll be listening to customer feedback."

K-Com, formerly known as Kingston Communications, provides all fixed line telecoms services in the Hull area. It says that other providers are not interested in entering the market.

There's a thread about DNS hijacking for Karoo subscribers this forum site. A statement from the firm said the opt-out is available on the help section of its website. ®

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