Namesco spits out phishy warning after credit card info leak
'Please do not treat this as SPAM'
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.
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."
The full text of Namesco's phish-like security warning:
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.
We have recently detected malicious activity on our systems resulting in the possibility that personal details and payment card information you have provided in connection with your Namesco account may be at risk. We are writing to recommend you take the appropriate action to protect your credit card data from potential fraudulent activity. A small proportion of our customer base has potentially been affected by this issue and we are contacting each person individually.
Who May Have Been Affected?
A recent security alert triggered our system administrators to immediately conduct a thorough investigation which concluded that your details may have been sent to a 3rd party email account. Although we do not have any evidence that your account has been compromised, we take the protection of our customers' data very seriously and we strongly advise as a precautionary measure you take the steps below to allay fears that your personal information has been intercepted. For your information, we have also contacted a separate group of 178 customers whose details were more likely to have been compromised.
The compromised data may include all or some of the following information: payment card number added to your Namesco account, name on card, card start (if entered) and card expiry date. Please note that the 3 digit card security number is not collected and therefore cannot be compromised. Your Namesco account administration email, account name, date of birth (if supplied), contact phone numbers (if supplied) and postal address may also have been compromised along with your Namesco account administration password. We have no reason to believe your site administration or email passwords have been affected.
What Might I Do Next?
We have not received any reports of illegal usage of your personal information; however you may consider contacting your card issuer to inform them that your card details may have been stolen and arrange to stop the payment card.
The last four digits and expiry date of payment card(s) are:
As a precaution, we recommend that you change your Namesco account administration password at https://admin.names.co.uk/reminder1.php which will send a password re-set email to the address you hold on your Namesco account. If your password is not changed by Tuesday 17th January, we will automatically change your password for you. This means that in order to access your Online Control Panel you will be required to re-set your password at https://admin.names.co.uk/reminder1.php anyway.
We apologise sincerely for any inconvenience this incident may have caused and would like to reassure you that we have been working around the clock to ensure that we have undertaken a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the malicious activity and immediately locked down security to remove vulnerabilities.
As a result of this breach we have focused all of our efforts on developing new security enhancements that strengthen our network infrastructure against criminal activity of this nature; and we will be liaising with the UK Information Commissioner regarding this incident and engaging the police who will support an investigation into this criminal activity.
If you have any questions raised by this email, you can contact us by calling 0845 363 3634, Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm.
We greatly appreciate your patience and goodwill and hope that you understand we are treating this incident with the highest level of seriousness.
xxx Customer Care Manager, UK Namesco Limited