Domain Name Keeper Hit By Hackers

Network Solutions, Inc., aka NSI (Nasdaq: NSOL), moved into the holiday weekend with something of a bang last Friday — albeit a bang without a celebratory tone to it. Hackers hit the IP address allocation company’s Web site, rerouting traffic and fueling an existent controversy.

Surfers visiting various sites maintained by the company — including dotpeople.com, netsol.com, networksolutions.com and nsi.com — were redirected to other Internet addresses including the Internet Council of Registrars, or Core, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

Controversy has surrounded NSI, as a wide range of netizens have accused the Herndon, Virginia-based company of maintaining a monopoly on the registration process of Internet domain names. The U.S. government, however, has moved in to resolve the situation, taking steps to encourage competition. CORE is one of the companies that will benefit from the move.

The Feds Move In

ICANN — a new non-profit company that has taken over NSI’s previous responsibility for the administration of the IP address system — issued a brief statement late Friday afternoon condemning the attack as “an attempt to undermine the stability of the domain name system.” The FBI is looking into the incident, and ICANN stated that it “will cooperate fully with any investigation into the matter.”

According to NSI, early inquiry into the matter revealed that the hack might have originated from SoftAware, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that maintains an office in the same space that ICANN does. This lead may yield little information, however, as hackers are known for obscuring their trail by utilizing multiple servers.

Rebels With A Cause Hit E-Commerce Site

Although online security has been sarcastically referred to as an issue in vogue, with recent Web server vulnerabilities identified, seemingly ceaseless Web site attacks and a proliferation of computer viruses and trojan horse programs, the hackers seem to be the only ones laughing. Government sites such as those maintained by the White House, the Senate and the FBI are not the only targets being hit either.

Last month, netizens protesting Spam attacked ibill, the Internet Billing Company, Ltd., an international provider of “secure” transaction processing solutions for business-to-consumer and business-to-business e-commerce.

The attack was a boycott action conducted by activists who maintain the Realtime Blackhole List. Reportedly, credit card transactions for some 16,000 e-commerce sites were disrupted.

Amidst the chaos, the U.S. House of Representatives is moving to pass the Computer Security Enhancement Act of 1999 — nicknamed by some “the hacker bill.” According to a Newsbytes report, if passed, the bill will allow review of public key infrastructure (PKI) issues, increase the availability of security experts for both the public and private sectors through a computer science fellowship program and advance the issues surrounding digital signatures — by working toward the establishment of a digital signature infrastructure.

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