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Network Solutions pulls widget that tainted up to 5m websites

Parked domains borked by long running security fail

Website security in corporate America

Network Solutions has admitted that a software widget designed to help small business to build websites was contaminated with malware.

The domain name registration and hosting firm has pulled the offending widget and published an advisory on its blog that provides some guidance to customers but fails to explain either how the slip-up happened or to apologise for the snafu.

Network Solutions instead heaps scorn on early reports that anywhere from 500,000 to 5 million websites have been affected by the tainted code, saying these estimates are well wide of the mark but without offering any figures itself.

Our Security Team was alerted this past weekend to a malicious code that was added to a widget housed on our small business blog, growsmartbusiness.com. This widget was used to provide small business tips on Network Solutions’ under construction pages. We have removed the widget from those pages and continue to check and monitor to ensure security.

The number of impacted pages that have reported publicly over the weekend are not accurate. We’re still investigating the number of web pages affected.

If you have downloaded the GrowSmartBusiness widget to your website, we recommend you delete that widget and scan your site for malware.

The tainted Small Business Success Index widget was offered to Network Solutions' customers and used as part of the parked domain page by default. In addition, the Network Solutions domain growsmallbusiness.com was compromised with a shell script.

Application security firm Armorize, which was the first to warn of the attack, traced the flaw back through a series of compromises involving DNS manipulation and Wordpress hacking and dating back to January, as explained in two advisories ( here and here.

Previous security failings had spawned the latest cock up which, according to Google searches, affect 500,000 domains. Yahoo searches on key terms associated with the tainted widget suggest it was loaded onto a much larger sample of more than 5 million domains.

Either way you look at it's a monumental howler that arose because Network Solutions failed to adequately clean-up its act after earlier security breaches dating back several months, leaving small businesses that relied on its services exposed to security threats and polluting the net with crud as a result. ®

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