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300 UK domains pilfered, MASSIVE security lapse blamed
From: Erica Absetz <erica () riskbasedsecurity com>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 13:03:44 -0400


What appears to be a glaringly obvious security hole has been blamed
for the snatching of 300 domains hosted by one web-hosting firm last
year, The Reg has discovered.

A source told El Reg that anyone with a hosting package from 123-Reg,
and hence an account control panel, simply had to change the final
section of the URL manually (to, for example,
/someoneelseswebsite.co.uk) to be able to gain access to another
site's emails, name servers and billing.

With access to the admin panel, would-be domain thieves just had to
change the contact details for UK registry Nominet to a new email
address and then do a failed password request to have a new password
sent to the new email address, locking the original owner out, our
source claimed.

The .uk registry told The Reg it had "worked with registrars to help
them tighten security and prevent a repeat of this incident". Both
123-Reg and Nominet informed us that there was "a query from a
registrant" last year that led to Nominet "discovering some
irregularities in registration and renewal patterns".

"As part of Nominet's standard operating procedures they locked the
affected domains from any transfer or adjustment whilst they
investigated further, and with our full support," 123-Reg said in an
emailed statement.

Nominet said that its investigations into the issue revealed that "a
total of 300 domains had been transferred over to a new registrant in
the post-expiry period without the permission of the original

"We [have] terminated our registrar agreement with one registrar," the
dot-UK registry said.

Neither firm would comment on how the the breach had come about or
whether the matter had been referred to Britain's Information

Nominet said it couldn't elaborate any further because "we understand
there is an ongoing police investigation into this issue". ®
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Risk Based Security equips organizations with security intelligence, risk
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