[ISN] Panix recovers from domain hijack

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Jan 18 06:38:38 EST 2005


By John Leyden
17th January 2005

Updated - The hijack of its domain name on Friday (14 January) has
thrown the operations of a New York ISP into turmoil. Panix staff
worked around the clock over the weekend to recover services after the
rug was pulled out from under its business.

"Panix's main domain name, panix.com, has been hijacked by parties
unknown," the ISP said in a statement on a temporary site Panix.net.  
"The ownership of panix.com was moved to a company in Australia, the
actual DNS records were moved to a company in the United Kingdom, and
Panix.com's mail has been redirected to yet another company in

"For most customers, accesses to Panix using the panix.com domain will
not work or will end up at a false site... as a temporary workaround,
you can use the panix.net domain in place of panix.com." Panix warned
customers that hijackers could have captured passwords inadvertently
submitted to the bogus site.

By Sunday, Panix had recovered its Panix.com domain from Australian
domain hosting / registration firm Melbourne IT, where the purloined
domain was parked, back to its natural home at Dotster. Root servera
have already been updated but the distributed nature of the net's
Domain Name System means that it will take up to 24 hours before
normality is restored fully.

Domain transfer rules that came into effect last November mean that
inter-registry transfer requests are automatically approved after five
days unless countermanded by the owner of a domain. Contrary to our
earlier report speculating that Panix may have fallen foul of these
rules, the company said its domain was taken without any warning.  
Panix, established in 1989 and New York's oldest commercial ISPs, said
neither it nor its registrar received any notification of the proposed

Ed Ravin, systems administrator at Panix, added: "Our registrar,
Dotster, told us that according to their system, the domain had not
been transferred, even though the global registry was pointing at
Melbourne IT. Something went wrong with the Internet registry system
at the highest levels."

Domain hijacks were a problem even before ICANN's revised rules came
into effect. Last September, German police arrested a teenager who
admitted hijacking the domain of eBay Germany as part of a "prank".  
Visitors to eBay Germany were redirected to a site hosted by internet
provider Intergenia AG. Netcraft advises users to 'lock up' domain to
safeguard against the possibility of "errant transfers". Even this
safeguard is not foolproof, according to Panix, which said taking this
precaution failed to stop its domain been hijacked.

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