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Namesco spits out phishy warning after credit card info leak

'Please do not treat this as SPAM'

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Namesco customers are angry over the domain name and hosting firm's handling of a security breach that exposed their credit card details.

A number of punters' card details were leaked after hackers broke into Namesco's systems. The web biz notified these customers as well as advising a larger number of its clients to reset their passwords as a precaution.

Namesco warned that users' account administration email, account names, dates of birth, contact numbers and postal addresses may also have been exposed by the breach, adding: "we have no reason to believe your site administration or email passwords have been affected".

The officially sanctioned warning email contained a link where users could reset their Namesco passwords – rather than advising users to log into the site directly. Even worse, the password reset URL users see when they place their mouse over the link is different to that provided in the text of the email, and not on the names.co.uk domain (it points towards http://t.dadacommunication.com/xxxx before redirecting to https://admin.names.co.uk/reminder1.php).

This is just the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a phishing email, causing two recipients of the email we've corresponded with initially discount the communication as an attempted scam before they contacted the firm directly.

Their initial doubts over the email are completely understandable, especially given it begin with the line: "This email is a genuine security communication from Namesco and contains important information about your credit card details; please do not treat this as SPAM" – just the sort of line a phishing email would peddle.

Namesco's email has many of the characteristics of phishing emails the industry has been training users to ignore for years. In fact it's so cack-handed that we expect it to be fodder for courses on how not to do security notifications for years to come.

We've personally heard from six Namesco customers who were notified about the breach. All are unimpressed by the firm's handling of the incident and one is threatening to cancel his subscription.

Affected customers are less than pleased at being put through the inconvenience of cancelling their cards. It is some comfort that no fraud actually took place in either case. It also seems Namesco acted promptly, if somewhat ill-advisedly, after detecting a possible breach.

Namesco is one of UK's largest public ISP and domain name register services, managing in excess of 1.5 million domains worldwide.

In a series of updates to the firm's Twitter account, Namesco confirmed the breach and apologised to its clients. "Security breach detected, small number of customers affected & contacted direct to take precautions, other customers are safe," it said, adding "unauthorized 3rd party activity was detected & dealt with immediately, security is paramount, those affected were contacted".

Namesco's marketing manager was not immediately available to take our calls when The Register rang to find out more about its handling of the incident. We'll update this story as and when we hear more.

Update

Namesco has been in touch with The Reg to say: "Asking customers to cancel a payment card and change password was not a decision that was taken lightly, but we felt it critical to give customers the facts. We're obviously very sorry if our email was mistaken as phishing, but we'd expect customers to doubt the contents of any email when the information directly relates to their personal data.

"We have already implemented new security enhancements that strengthen our network infrastructure against criminal activity of this nature and remain dedicated to providing a high level of service that puts our customers first."

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