CloudFlare to launch its own 'high security' web domain registrar

Are you afraid of hijackers and are spending >$60k anually with CloudFlare?

Exclusive CloudFlare will this Wednesday launch its own internet domain registrar for wealthy customers who simply cannot have their websites hijacked.

The business model of most registrars – the organizations you typically buy domain names from – is based upon volume, ie: selling as many names as possible and making the process as easy as possible to use. That flexibility leaves enough room in domain registration systems for hackers to exploit.

Even high-value domains are mostly still managed by consumer-grade registrars, according to CloudFlare, which says it has "noticed a rise in domain hijacks over the past few years."

The issue is that anyone with access to the registrar account – such as an attacker or former employee – can take complete control over a domain, and as such could redirect its traffic, alter its web content, hold the domain hostage for a ransom, or even compromise the emails intended for the domain's legitimate owner.

It is ironic that for large organizations that tend to need six or more people to sign off on a business change, a single username and password pair is all that's needed to login and alter the settings of the corporation's web domains. CloudFlare's registrar intends to make it harder for changes to be made.

Matthew Prince, CloudFlare's CEO, told The Register how "two and a half years ago, we got a frantic call from the CTO of the New York Times, after a hacking group – attributed to be the Syrian Electronic Army – hacked its registrar, Melbourne IT, and were able to take over the domain of"

The New York Times' website was replaced with a message written by miscreants, but behind the scenes, according to Prince, "every email that had been sent to anyone at the New York Times was potentially redirected to a malicious server – a server controlled by this hacking group, and when you're an organization receiving as many sensitive emails as the Times, this is pretty worrisome."

As Prince described it, "there wasn't a tonne that we could do to help" in that situation. "If a hacker compromises your registrar and takes over your domain, they have the keys to the kingdom and can use those to unlock everything. Really, they can take over your entire business," said Prince.

"We set out to become our own registrar to protect our own domains from being hijacked," he added, "and then protect the domains of high-value organisations and customers." Prince stressed that "this isn't for the ten-dollars-a-year crowd," but was more of an add-on for those spending "$5,000 a month" with CloudFlare.

CloudFlare's registrar will manage web names for its customers, and ensure REGISTRAR-LOCK and REGISTRY-LOCK are available to prevent hackers from moving domains to a different registrar – as well as automatically renewing domains (which even Google doesn't always remember to do), and ensuring DNSSEC is enabled.

"Intentionally, we're not going after the mass-market," said Prince, "but for the largest customers that really care about keeping control of their domain. The domain is a critical part for organizations that really care about security."

Roughly six months ago, ICANN awarded registrar status to CloudFlare. Although the San Francisco biz is the world's 1,910th registrar, it will be "the first to say 'Let's build this from the ground up to be as secure as possible'," said Prince.

That building started with "implementing a change control process" that does not attempt to be streamlined or convenient at all costs, nor offer a one-size-fits-all user interface.

Instead, CloudFlare will allow customers to "specify and build their own change control process ... if an organisation requires six different individuals from six different departments to all email in their changes, and then verify by faxing," then CloudFlare will let them do that. ®

Disclosure: El Reg is a customer of CloudFlare and uses its content-distribution network.

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Cloudflare menaces virtual desktops with isolated browser access to internal networks
    Gives cloudy email a kicking, too – but VDI should be safe in its bastions

    Cloudflare has added the ability to access private networks to its browser isolation service, and suggests the combo represents an alternative to virtual desktop infrastructure.

    Browser isolation requires organizations to have a Cloudflare Zero Trust account, and to install a client on users' devices. Cloudflare runs a browser in its cloud and users browse as usual – but Cloudflare intervenes so that users don't make it to whichever web server they intend to visit.

    Cloudflare browses to the server and then redraws the web page on the client browser. The user's device therefore never touches the web server, so anything nasty on a page is snuffed out by Cloudflare in its cloud instead of poisoning a local PC.

    Continue reading
  • Google, EFF back Cloudflare in row over pirate streams
    Ban akin to 'ordering a telephone company to prevent a person from having conversations' over its lines

    Google, EFF, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) have filed court documents supporting Cloudflare after it was sued for refusing to block a streaming site.

    Earlier this year, a handful of Israel-based media companies took to court, accusing it of streaming TV and movie content it had no right to distribute. The corporations — United King Film Distribution, D.B.S. Satellite Services, HOT Communication Systems, Charlton, Reshet Media and Keshet Broadcasting — won the lawsuit after's creators failed to show up to their hearings, and the judge ordered, and each pay $7,650,000 in damages. 

    In a more surprising move, however, the media outfits also won an injunction [PDF] in the United States in April against a slew of internet companies, among others, banning them from aiding in its piracy.

    Continue reading
  • Cloudflare explains how it managed to break the internet
    'Network engineers walked over each other's changes'

    A large chunk of the web (including your own Vulture Central) fell off the internet this morning as content delivery network Cloudflare suffered a self-inflicted outage.

    The incident began at 0627 UTC (2327 Pacific Time) and it took until 0742 UTC (0042 Pacific) before the company managed to bring all its datacenters back online and verify they were working correctly. During this time a variety of sites and services relying on Cloudflare went dark while engineers frantically worked to undo the damage they had wrought short hours previously.

    "The outage," explained Cloudflare, "was caused by a change that was part of a long-running project to increase resilience in our busiest locations."

    Continue reading
  • Cloudflare's outage was human error. There's a way to make tech divinely forgive
    Don't push me 'cos I'm close to the edge. And the edge is safer if you can take a step back

    Opinion Edge is terribly trendy. Move cloudy workloads as close to the user as possible, the thinking goes, and latency goes down, as do core network and data center pressures. It's true  – until the routing sleight-of-hand breaks that diverts user requests from the site they think they're getting to the copies in the edge server. 

    If that happens, everything goes dark – as it did last week at Cloudflare, edge lords of large chunks of web content. It deployed a Border Gateway Protocol policy update, which promptly took against a new fancy-pants matrix routing system designed to improve reliability. Yeah. They know. 

    It took some time to fix, too, because in the words of those in the know, engineers "walked over each other's changes" as fresh frantic patches overwrote slightly staler frantic patches, taking out the good they'd done. You'd have thought Cloudflare of all people would be able to handle concepts of dirty data and cache consistency, but hey. They know that too. 

    Continue reading
  • Cloudflare says it thwarted record-breaking HTTPS DDoS flood
    26m requests a second? Not legit traffic, not even Bill Gates doing $1m giveaways could manage that

    Cloudflare said it this month staved off another record-breaking HTTPS-based distributed denial-of-service attack, this one significantly larger than the previous largest DDoS attack that occurred only two months ago.

    In April, the biz said it mitigated an HTTPS DDoS attack that reached a peak of 15.3 million requests-per-second (rps). The flood last week hit a peak of 26 million rps, with the target being the website of a company using Cloudflare's free plan, according to Omer Yoachimik, product manager at Cloudflare.

    Like the attack in April, the most recent one not only was unusual because of its size, but also because it involved using junk HTTPS requests to overwhelm a website, preventing it from servicing legit visitors and thus effectively falling off the 'net.

    Continue reading
  • Man gets two years in prison for selling 200,000 DDoS hits
    Over 2,000 customers with malice on their minds

    A 33-year-old Illinois man has been sentenced to two years in prison for running websites that paying customers used to launch more than 200,000 distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks.

    A US California Central District jury found the Prairie State's Matthew Gatrel guilty of one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, unauthorized impairment of a protected computer and conspiracy to commit unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. He was initially charged in 2018 after the Feds shut down 15 websites offering DDoS for hire.

    Gatrel, was convicted of owning and operating two websites – and – that sold DDoS attacks. The FBI said that DownThem sold subscriptions that allowed the more than 2,000 customers to run the attacks while AmpNode provided customers with the server hosting. AmpNode spoofed servers that could be pre-configured with DDoS attack scripts and attack amplifiers to launch simultaneous attacks on victims.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech shrank the internet while growing its own power
    Classic internet ideas matter less now that CDNs and private networks dominate traffic

    Comment The internet has become smaller, the result of a rethinking of when and where to use the 'net's intended architecture. In the process it may also have further concentrated power in the hands of giant technology companies.

    Given the ever-expanding content and resources available online, and proliferation of connected devices, the notion that the internet has shrunk is counter-intuitive. But shrunk it has – to the point at which some iPhones do not immediately connect to the open internet.

    Those phones are iPhones running the latest version of Apple's iOS and the opt-in service called Private Relay. The iGiant bills Private Relay as a privacy enhancement because it obscures users' DNS lookups and IP addresses by funneling traffic over networks operated by Cloudflare, according to specs set by Apple.

    Continue reading
  • Cloudflare stomps huge DDoS attack on crypto platform
    At 15.3 million requests per second, the assault was the largest HTTPS blitz on record lasting 15 seconds

    Cloudflare this month halted a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on a cryptocurrency platform that not only was unusual in its sheer size but also because it was launched over HTTPS and primarily originated from cloud datacenters rather than residential internet service providers (ISPs).

    At 15.3 million requests-per-second (rps), the DDoS bombardment was one of the largest that the internet infrastructure company has seen, and the largest HTTPS attack on record.

    It lasted less than 15 seconds and targeted a crypto launchpad, which Cloudflare analysts in a blog post said are "used to surface Decentralized Finance projects to potential investors."

    Continue reading
  • Developer adoption is our priority, profits second, Cloudflare tells bankers
    We seem to give away stuff for free at just the right time, says CFO

    If Cloudflare CFO Thomas Seifert's take on his company's direction is accurate, expect future strategy to focus on how it can use its slew of newly announced tools to make the biggest dent in existing markets. Profit motivations come a distant second, as least for now.

    Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference, Seifert told analyst Keith Weiss that 2022 will be all about growing Cloudflare's Zero Trust solution as well as Workers, its serverless code platform.

    Even with those products, Seifert said, the security-focused content-delivery network's strategy isn't about earnings – it's about gaining users. "We think primarily about adoption in the developer community penetration and less about dollars and revenue at this point in time," Siefert told the audience of investors and financial analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Cloudflare, Akamai: Why we're not pulling out of Russia
    Yanking connectivity would do more harm than good, they say

    Though Cloudflare and Akamai have voiced their opposition to President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, they have stopped short of pulling completely out of Russia despite mounting pressure to do so.

    In a March 6 statement, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said his company, which provides DDoS protection and other internet networking and security services, has received "several calls to terminate" all business inside Russia. He added that "we've watched in horror the Russian invasion of Ukraine," adding: "Our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and the entire team at Cloudflare prays for a peaceful resolution as soon as possible."

    That said, after discussing the situation with government and private-sector experts, Prince said Cloudflare concluded: "Russia needs more internet access, not less."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022