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How Baidu Got Hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army

Court documents show how imposter allegedly duped Register.com into handing over access to Baidu.com.

Last month visitors to Baidu.com were redirected to a page stating that the site had been hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army.

Baidu later sued Register.com for allegedly allowing a security intrusion that enabled the hackers to change the name servers for Baidu.com. But the original lawsuit redacted the essential facts about how the hackers got control of Baidu’s account at Register.com. Now an unredacted copy of the lawsuit is available (pdf).

What it alleges is stunning. Here’s how Baidu alleges the hacker got access to one of the world’s most popular web sites domain name account in under an hour:

1. Hacker starts online chat session with Register.com representative, claiming to be an agent of Baidu.

2. Register.com representative asks hacker to provide verification information. Hacker provides invalid information, but Register.com goes ahead and e-mails a security code to the email address it has on file for Baidu anyway.

3. The hacker doesn’t have access to that e-mail address, so he/she relays a bogus security code to the Register.com representative via chat. Baidu claims the representative didn’t bother to compare the code to the actual one.

4. Hacker asks Register.com representative to change email address on file to antiwahabi2008@gmail.com, and representative does.

5. Hacker now uses “forgot password” link at Register.com to request the username and password to the account. Hacker can then log in and change the name servers.

This isn’t the first time a major corporation has had its nameservers changed thanks to a compromised domain account. But the details in how the account was allegedly compromised are stunning. It’s also unfortunate that, had Baidu used added security such as that offered by Moniker or Fabulous, this entire event could have been avoided.

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Reader Interactions


    Leave a Comment

  1. Jamie says

    Was the person from Register.com live chat on CRACK. Hello…

    Maybe an inside job?

    It just seems so odd that steps 2-4 took place with any right minded person. Glad I do not have any domains with Register.com

  2. domain guy says

    i used to use register.com but switched to godaddy. every time i cantact godaddy there is a regious test to answer questions to verify my validity to the account. recently godaddy started asking for the last 6 digets on my credit card. it used to be over the last 10 yrs the last 4 digets were sufficient. consistantly internal upgarding secutity procedures by godaddy.

  3. jeff says

    This happened to me before with RegisterFly. I didn’t have the same email but they sent me the codes anyway without checkng.

  4. kedaar says

    It is social engineering. And it is the only & best way to penetrate, because organization takes care of infrastructure security and forgets the humans. People are the weakest link in security.

  5. Paul says

    Kedaar – “People are the weakest link in security.” I disagree – the best computer in the room is still your brain…if you use it. If the computer is in sleep mode, then you get zzzzzzzzz

    • Andrew Allemann says

      The irony hit my last night. Register.com makes us call in to transfer out a domain name under the guise of ‘security’.

      I’d rather leave that to the traditional registrar transfer method, rather than letting a Register.com rep get duped into handing over my authorization keys.

  6. Marg says

    Hi Andrew, Interesting post indeed, for one who has had to slog through the manual Register.com transfer-out process several times. Have you managed to get any comment or explanation from Register.com? Or have they just cloaked themselves in the all-purpose “privacy” excuse for not responding?

  7. Milan Marais says

    When virus attacks were increasing, I had a theory (and I am sure most of you had the same one) that some Anti-virus businesses were behind the virus attacks and then started selling AV products.

    Nowadays you have to “buy” protection against unauthorised (SSL certificates and all the others)access to you websites. Isn’t that a new way to make money?

  8. John Doe says

    Interesting Article and Comments.

    1. However, what proof does Baidu to support this rep accusation at register.com?

    2. Why would Baidu even use a service like register when you have more premium services like dyn.com (yes, twitter, move on).

    3. More importantly, where is register’s marketing team, they should be here posting and following on this article, right?

    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ John Doe

      1. These are pretty specific accusations that Baidu could only know if Register.com disclosed it to Baidu

      2. Even if you use something like DynDNS, if someone gets access to your registrar account they can change your DNS

      3. Don’t know.

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