Spoof hack leaves red faces at Leeds football club

Insult supposedly perpetrated by over-exuberant Turkish football fan raises question about domain names

Leeds United fans visiting lufc.com Wednesday were shocked to find an animated figure doing something unmentionable to their team's badge with a message from hackers GeSeT and GaNNo claiming Turkish team Galatasaray will win the upcoming UEFA cup semi-final clash.

What seemed at first to be a hack from an over-exuberant Galatasaray fan turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. Leeds' official Web site is actually located at lufc.co.uk -- the dotcom site was merely a spoof.

It fooled other football Websites, including Arsenal, which ran stories about the supposed hack. It also raises a question about the tricky business of registering domain names.

A spokesman for Planet Football, which hosts the site, admits there was an oversight. "Clubs should have the option to buy any similar domain names," he said. It is currently in discussion with Planet Online to find out why the dotcom name was not bought.

CEO of domain registration service NetNames Jonathan Robinson believes it is essential companies buy up all likely domain names to protect their brand. "For a smaller company, we tell them to buy dotco.uk and dotcom, which at £200 investment is not a big deal," he says.

For larger companies and high profile organisations like football clubs, the investment needs to be much bigger, according to Robinson. "It's about your online brand and how much you want to protect that. We recommend firms build a forcefield around their name," he says. "For companies like EasyEverything and Virgin, it is not unusual to spend up to £100,000 to protect their brand."

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