Mar 26 2009   8:39PM GMT

Hijacking Your Website

Arian Eigen Heald Arian Eigen Heald Profile: Arian Eigen Heald

With all the publicity going on about the Heartland breach, not much attention has been paid to what happened to CheckFree last December. The event is also much more challenging to explain to the average consumer, but it was a significant technical attack that you and I should be aware of.

And they did it without hacking into CheckFree. Simply, they redirected visitors to a faux CheckFree customer login page on a Web site in Ukraine that tried to install password-stealing software.

There’s all sorts of pharming, phishing (I’m getting a little weary of the “ph” naming convention, frankly) out there. What is important here is that the bad guys got into the Domain Registrar in order to redirect traffic. They didn’t go for breaking into domain servers; they used a legitimate admin name and password to log into Network Solutions and change the information.

So think for a moment about how you maintain your domain registration, and how important that is to your company. Over the course of five hours the bad guys captured who knows how many IDs and logins for CheckFree.

CheckFree is not just any company, it’s owned by Fiserv, and is the backend company for financial institutions that utilize billpay services.It manages between 70% and 80% of this type of financial service. So while no data was captured from CheckFree servers, the possible loss of login information is significant. Up to 160,000 users may have been impacted.

Even though the information on Network Solutions was corrected after five hours, the badguys had set up the information to last for 48 hours in the TTL (Time to Live) configuration. So unless a massive PUSH was made (and it wasn’t) DNS servers that received that information didn’t have to check back for another 48 hours.

Registrars are becoming increasingly attractive targets. At one point the IP address in the Ukraine held multiple fake sites.

It’s worth thinking about how your business might be impacted. And what kind of username and password you’re using with your Domain Registrar. How was the ID and password to Network Solutions captured? They don’t know. Can we imagine an admin’s PC getting infected?

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