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By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2005-01-18 Print this article Print

I was concerned on two fronts: 1) that a "rogue registrar" could more easily steal domains this way, and 2) that so much data in whois is inaccurate, intentionally on the part of the owners, that notifications could go unnoticed by legitimate owners.

I still think phony whois data is a problem in this regard, but I was assured that the rogue registrar scenario wasnt credible, and this incident doesnt seem to be an example of it. On the other hand, it does appear to me that at least one registrar was delinquent in some way, in that I cant believe that all these domain owners didnt see a notification of a transfer request, not to mention changes in the whois records themselves.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.
The stolen domains have ended up with more than one registrar, but according the Kirikos post they were all previously at Dotster, a deep discounter that has domain names like and for sale on its home page.

Kirikos believes, and with good reason, that the answer is to use the registry LOCK feature. Actually, he says that registrars should, by default, lock all domains, and I cant see a good reason not to. Its just good security for a registrar, and thats what this story is probably all about: good practices, especially security practices, by domain registrars. The system may be all set up now to make transfers go smoothly, so its up to the registrars to make sure that domain hijackings dont.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. More from Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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