Linux.org domain hacked, plastered with trolling, filth and anti-transgender vandalism

Web admin blames public Whois and lack of 2FA


The Linux.org domain was hijacked on Friday morning, with the hacker plastering the message "G3T 0WNED L1NUX N3RDZ" complete with expletives and a very NSFW image (a hairy asshole).

The real administrator of the site, Mike McLagan, immediately 'fessed up on Reddit, and said the vandal had managed to break into his partner's Network Solutions registrar account and switch Linux.org DNS servers to their own site.

"This evening someone got into my partner's netsol account and pointed linux.org DNS to their own cloudflare account," McLagan wrote, adding: "The production env (web / db) wasn't touched. DNS was simply pointing to another box."

He was posting, he said, so Linux.org users would know "that the actual linux.org servers were untouched and no data was leaked."

That series of events was confirmed by a screenshot posted by the hacker themselves on a new Twitter account - @kitlol5 – which showed them inside Michelle McLagan's account with access to a series of domains including linuxonline.com, linuxhq.com, McLagan's personal dot-com and, of course, linux.org. The hacker took them all down.

It's not clear what drove the hacking effort although Linux.org did recently change management, delete its content and users and force people to re-register: Something that was not a hugely popular move.

As for how it was hacked, McLagan blames the public Whois displaying his partner's email address – presumably the hacker worked their way into the Yahoo! email account listed as the admin of the site and from there requested a password change in her Network Solutions account to gain access to the domain.

So, um, security

McLagan also put the blame on himself for not having added multi-factor authentication. One Reddit poster castigated him: "It's 2018, there's really no excuse to not have already been doing so." He replied: "I agree."

In the meantime, the vandal was having fun with the site, linking to a story about Linus Torvalds taking time off to deal with anger issues and noting that the Linux kernel now has a code of conduct.

The miscreant then decided to take offense at the existence of transgender Linux developer Coraline Ada Ehmke, posting an article to an alt-right website slamming her, and then posting her personal details including email and home addresses.

But finally, at around 0300 GMT – after three-and-a-hour hours of ring-piece vandalism – the Linux.org owners managed to get the site redirected.

As of the time of writing, the site is still down. Presumably, once McLagan and his partner have proved their credentials they will be able to redirect the websites and once propagated they – and Linux.org – will reappear.

Lesson to be taken from all this: put multi-factor authentication on your registrar account. It's also another sign that the changes forced onto the Whois by European GDPR data laws – where private detail is currently hidden – may actually be beneficial to many internet users. It may make sense for people to take this opportunity to change their domain contact email addresses so old Whois records are no longer accurate. ®

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