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.

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