Friday, December 19, 2014

ICANN apparently hacked, but apparently no harm to ordinary domain owners; check your WHOIS

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, announced Tuesday, December 17, 2014, that it had been hacked, according to a story in Slate by Lily Hay Newman here.

Apparently the hack occurred out of an archaic “spear phishing” attack in emails to employees.
The actual content in the CZDS is encrypted and supposed to be OK.  It seems unlikely that the hack exposes any ordinary webmasters to risk of redirection.  Nevertheless, webmasters should remain alert, check all their domains, and particularly review their WHOIS information (even if privately registered) once a month.  ICANN requires that domain owners review the information yearly (and sends emails) but more often is wise.
Webmasters may find that some domains (like Wordpress blogs) are hosted on shared IP addresses.  This is OK. 
The ultimate nightmare could something like finding your domain name redirected to a porn site.
This reminds me of a problem in 2008 where Microsoft held an emergency security summit after Finnish security researches found a serious security hole in the domain system (ID theft blog, Aug. 9, 2008). 
 It's also worthy to note that people with older home routers should regularly reboot them (turn off, wait, and turn back on (causing a firmware update, perhaps taking five minutes or so), to get rid of any malware.  This does seem to fix the "Moon virus" in some routers, which could cause random redirection of some sites. 

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