Protesters to Nike: Just hack it!

Nike.com is the latest victim of domain name hijacking
Written by Bob Sullivan, Contributor

Nike's Web site is the latest victim of 'domain name hijacking'. For much of the day Wednesday, visitors to Nike's site were redirected to an environmental site devoted to "S-11" -- an Internet-organized protest scheduled for 11 September, to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting to be held in Melbourne, Australia.

"It is rather disturbing when it happen to you," said Vada Manager, director of global issues management for Nike. He said the company was working with domain name registrar Network Solutions to fix the problem, and believed the issue had been resolved by midday Pacific time (8pm GMT) on Wednesday. But at noon, Nike.com was still redirecting visitors to the wrong location.

Currently, visitors will see a press release allegedly issued by British Internet hosting provider FirstNET Online. In the release, the company disavows any connection with the protestors and says it has been working to remedy the problem as quickly as possible.

"FirstNET Online (Management) Limited, owner of FrugalNames [tm] learned at approximately 3.30pm GMT that the domain name www.nike.com had been re-pointed through its UK-based servers, and was in fact pointing at www.s11.org, an activist site apparently located in Australia," the release stated.

"We have endeavoured to contact the relevant officials at Nike, but in fact, the technical and other contacts mentioned in the WHOIS at Network Solutions (formerly Internic) are no longer with the company, and the numbers listed therein are not working numbers. We faxed a letter to the Head Office for Nike, and have telephoned three times, but our calls have not been returned," the release continued.

The company goes on to indicate that the additional traffic coming from Nike.com visitors is unwanted.

"At this stage, we cannot stop the traffic which is resulting from the re-routing of www.nike.com. Clearly the additional (and unauthorised) traffic hitting our servers, is causing our existing client's site performance to be undermined. Assuming that this happening is not attributed to Nike, through error or omission, it cannot be overstated that such a breach in their security has a knock-on effect for our company and our clients."

Domain name hijacking was first reported last year, but in the past two months computer vandals have 'stolen' several high-profile Web addresses.

Web site names like msnbc.com, called 'domain names', are kept in a database called the Internet domain name system. About 40 companies, called registrars, have access to the database, but Network Solutions is easily the largest.

Computer vandals have discovered that they can trick registrars into changing ownership of domain names by sending specially formed email messages that use a technique called 'spoofing'. Usually, the sites are returned to their rightful owners after a few days and some angry phone calls.

Manager said his company was still trying to figure out what went wrong, but added that his firm utilises an extra layer of security, which means the company's domain name can not be altered by a simple email.

"They were very creative in how they did it," Manager said. "We are still investigating."

Take me to Hackers

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.

Editorial standards