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Hackers Control Domain Months Before Hijack

The domain was hijacked in January 2021, but hackers seemingly took control of it four months prior, in September 2020.

The domain was hijacked in January 2021, but hackers seemingly took control of it four months prior, in September 2020.

Serving articles about the Perl programming language since 1997 and managed by The Perl Foundation, the domain started pointing to a parked site at the end of January, with evidence suggesting connections to sites distributing malware.

The issue, some of those involved with maintaining the site said at the time, was related to an account hijack that resulted in an unknown party being able to grab the domain for ten years.

In a post on Sunday, Brian Foy, senior editor of and author of several books on Perl, explains that the account hijack appears to have been, in fact, an attack on the domain name registrar Network Solutions.

The attack, he explains, took place in September 2020 and might have resulted in several other domains being compromised.

“We think that there was a social engineering attack on Network Solutions, including phony documents and so on. There’s no reason for Network Solutions to reveal anything to me, but I did talk to other domain owners involved and this is the basic scheme they reported,” he notes.

In December, the hackers transferred the domain to the BizCN registrar. Although the domain was compromised in September, ICANN prohibits the transfer of a domain for 60 days following the updating of contact info.

The attackers also renewed the domain for two more years and, in January 2021, transferred it once again, this time to Key Systems, GmbH.

“This latency period avoids immediate detection, and bouncing the domain through a couple registrars makes the recovery much harder,” Foy says.

Following the transfer to Key Systems, however, the fraudulent registrant also listed the on domain marketplace Afternic, for $190,000.

The domain was back in the hands of Tom Christiansen, the rightful owner, in early February. However, with security products quick to blacklist it and some DNS servers sinkholing it, it took a while longer for everything to be restored to normal.

“I think we’re fully back,” Foy notes, adding that the team is working on ensuring that such hijacking doesn’t happen again.

Related: Expired Domain Allowed Researcher to Hijack Country’s TLD

Related: Over 600 Microsoft Subdomains Can Be Hijacked: Researchers

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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