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Another day, another mass domain hijacking

Gandi admits logins stolen, 750 web addresses pointed to malware

More than 750 domain names were hijacked through the internet's own systems, registrar Gandi has admitted.

Late last week, an unknown individual managed to get hold of the company's login to one of its technical providers, which then connects to no fewer than 27 other top-level domains, including .asia, .au, .ch, .jp and .se.

Using that login, the attacker managed to change the domain details on the official nameservers for 751 domains on a range of top-level domains, and redirect them all to a specific website serving up malware.

The changes went unnoticed for four hours until one the registry operators reported the suspicious changes to Gandi. Within an hour, Gandi's technical team identified the problem, changed all the logins and started reverting the changes made – a process that took three-and-a-half hours, according to the company's incident report, published this week.

Taking into account the delay in updating the DNS, the domain names had been hijacked for anywhere between eight and 11 hours, Gandi admits.

Ironically, one website impacted by the attack was Swiss information security company SCRT, which has written a blog post about the hijack of its website. It notes that all of its emails were also redirected during the attack, but fortunately whoever carried out the attack did not set up email servers to grab them.

The company said that "despite the fact that this incident was entirely out of our control," it has since added extra security around its website and DNS, including:

  • Preloading strict-transport-security into browsers to protect all visitors.
  • Active monitoring of DNS resolution.
  • Start talking to its registry (.ch) about how to detect a similar attack in future and act faster.
  • Add DNSSEC for an extra layer of security.

Gandi meanwhile has reset all its logins and has launched a security audit of its entire infrastructure in an effort to figure out how its logins were stolen.

"We sincerely apologize that this incident occurred," said its report. "Please be assured that our priority remains on the security of your data and that we will continue to protect your security and privacy in the face of ever-evolving threats."

The incident comes in the same week that a botched back-end handover of the .io top-level domain enabled a security researcher to register four of the seven domain names acting as the nameservers for registry and potentially redirect tens of thousands of domains to a malicious website. ®

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