RealTime IT News

Network Solutions in Another Hijacking Controversy

Network Solutions this week is again in the middle of a domain hijacking dispute.

At the heart of the current debacle is Nike, whose site was hijacked earlier this week. Additionally, on Monday the Violence Policy Center's domain was hijacked, and the previous weekend, United4Cash.com's domain was stolen and visitors were directed to a site that featured a fictitious message stating that the site was "under investigation."

InternetNews.com recently featured a report of how the internet.com domain was hijacked, one among many that were hijacked in the last couple months. In spite of using the highest form of authorization possible, internet.com was hijacked through the use of email spoofing and falsified documents that were faxed to the registrar, who at that point failed to institute its own authorization methods (a domain is not supposed to be transfered until the registrar has proof that the person transferring the domain is the actual authorized owner of the company--Network Solutions' rule is to require that a notarized document is to be sent to Network Solutions from the current owner and future owner authorizing the transfer).

Network Solutions spokesperson Brian O'Shaughnessy has asserted "It happens to names of some merit rather than names of no merit," indicating that Network Solutions handles up to 30,000 database changes every day. But that's not always the case--InternetNews has received emails from many domain owners whose domains have been hijacked. None of them were "top dollar" domains, nor were any of them famous marks, but rather Mom-and-Pop type businesses.

Becky Rutledge, owner of the recently hijacked United4Cash.com domain, is upset about how Network Solutions handled the situation once she reported it.

"I can't begin to tell you how awful and damaging this has been. This illegal domain transfer took place late this past Friday night [June 16th]. When I contacted Network Solutions first thing on Saturday morning, they told me they couldn't do anything and I'd have to call back Monday! It wasn't until Wednesday that Network Solutions transferred my domain [back] to me!"

Rutledge is upset that Network Solutions won't take responsibility for the error, and that as a result, her site's reputation has been severely damaged.

Domain hijackings over the last two months include the domains nike.com, internet.com, web.net, whoami.com, exodus.net, emory.edu, w3.org, nethead.com, United4Cash.com, vpc.org, among others. Network Solutions maintains that only a very small number of domains have been hijacked, however the numbers appear to be much higher than they originally reported.

Critics have suggested that the registrar's authorization schemes leave something to be desired, and that the hijackings will continue to happen until better security methods are put in place. These critics have also pointed out that until Network Solutions treats all of its customers--not just the industry players--with the same respect and timely service, they will be taking their domain registrations elsewhere.