eBay Germany and German domain registry organisation DeNIC are to investigate a partly successful domain hijacking scam that remained unnoticed for at least a couple of hours.
On Saturday, visitors to eBay Germany were redirected to a scam site hosted by IIntergenia AG. The German internet provider says criminals requested a DNS (domain name server) transfer for several high profile sites, including Google.com, Web.de, Amazon.com and eBay Germany. While most of the DNS transfers were denied, somehow eBay slipped through the net.
How the domain could have been transferred without the consent of the existing holder remains unclear. When a website decides to move its site to a new server it has to tell the DNS service its new IP address. Although this is largely an automated process, several measures are taken to prevent hijacking attempts.
Experts believe the goal of the hijacking was to fool users into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers and account usernames and passwords. Normally, these phishing attacks use spoofed emails to lure victims to fraudulent websites. The bogus site, which several visitors claimed to have seen, may also have tried to read login names and passwords of visitors from cookies on their PCs.
Although DeNIC corrected the transfer, eBay wants to know who's to blame. The immensely popular internet auctioneer and its users may have lost substantial revenue because the original site was unavailable for several hours.
The scam site officially belonged to a man from Niedersachsen, but he denies any involvement. The German state criminal police agency (Landeskriminalamt) is now starting an investigation too.