[UPDATE] Users looking to visit online classifieds titan Craigslist on Sunday evening were redirected to a site hosted at the domain DigitalGangster(dot)Com, as a result of a DNS hijack.
Assumingly under a heavy load, the server receiving the hijacked traffic was unable to cope with the massive amount of web traffic that Craigslist.org receives and was unable to respond to most web requests.
Not long after, the attacker(s) apparently changed some settings, and redirected requests for craigslist.org to the New York Times website, after going through a third party click through gateway, which could have been an affiliate link. Soon after that, requests reverted back to the Digital Gangster site, which at the time of publishing still appeared to be choking under heavy traffic.
Domain records indicate that the domain record was modified at 2014-11-24T00:32:41Z, with the domain name registrant listed as “steven wynhoff @LulzClerk”. (A Twitter search shows the account “@LulzClerk” as a suspended account.)
Related: DNS Hijack – How to Avoid Being a Victim
[UPDATE] – As of early Monday morning, the domain registration is back in control of the rightful Craigslist administrator, with the Name Servers also changed back Craigslist.org servers. Users may need to clear their Browser Cache or Flush their DNS Cache to force the new settings to correctly resolve the DNS requests faster.
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster posted an update on the incident early Monday, acknowledging that a “DNS outage” occurred as a result of a compromise:
“At approximately 5pm PST Sunday evening the craigslist domain name service (DNS) records maintained at one of our domain registrars were compromised, diverting users to various non-craigslist sites.
This issue has been corrected at the source, but many internet service providers (ISPs) cached the false DNS information for several hours, and some may still have incorrect information.
If you are unable to reach the craigslist site, please ask your network provider or tech staff to flush all *.craigslist.org and *.craigslist.com entries (A,CNAME,SOA) from their DNS servers.”
Attacks like this typically are not very complex, and rarely affect customer data.
These types of attacks typically do not utilize advanced hacking techniques to compromise servers or users’ systems via exploits or other means. In fact, attackers typically execute these attacks using simple phishing methods or other social engineering tactics that enable them to gain access to online accounts that control the domain name services.
DNS hijacking is also a favored attack method used by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), who managed to hijack domain names belonging to the New York Times and Twitter last year.
• DNS Hijack – How to Avoid Being a Victim
• Five DNS Threats You Should Protect Against
• Are Your Domains Safe? Five Ways to Safeguard Your Domain Name and Website
• Network Solutions’ June “Snafu” – Why Heads Should Roll