Hackers stole data from Epik this year, connecting the dots between extremist websites and their owners.
This year, the domain name industry received unwelcome attention when hackers stole data from Epik.
Epik is a domain name registrar known for catering to extremist websites and those that are “deplatformed” by other registrars and hosts. For example, in the wake of this year’s attempted insurrection on January 6, Parler moved its domain name to Epik.
The registrar’s management throws its weight behind the conspiracy theories and right-wing talking points some of its clients (such as Alex Jones) espouse. When GoDaddy terminated its Afternic relationship with Epik, it questioned why it received the notice two hours after the media called the 2020 election for Joe Biden. After PayPal cut off Epik last year, Epik published a letter referring to Hollywood pedophiles and Hunter Biden.
The hackers targeted Epik because it catered to many extremist websites and gave them anonymity. Despite calling itself “The Swiss Bank of Domains,” it turns out that Epik had very bad security practices. Epik CEO Rob Monster admitted there was some “shitty Russian code” on its platform.
After the hack, various organizations mined the data to connect the dots between lots of unsavory sites and their registrants.
The debate over limits of free speech and the role registrars should play with content continues. Epik has shown that its line is much further than most other registrars when it comes to what is acceptable, and this has attracted lots of attention. If anything, the hack shows that true anonymity on the web made be illusory. As long as one person or company knows who you are, others might find out.