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IPv6 addresses are the new domain hacks

Kevin Murphy, June 8, 2011, Domain Tech

It’s World IPv6 Day today, and a number of companies have decided to get a little playful with their new IP addresses, using them to spell out their brands.

IPv6 uses hexadecimal notation – the 10 digits and the letters A through F – so it’s possible to use them as “vanity” addresses using something like h4x0r-speak or license plate hacks.

Here’s a few IPv6 “hacks” I’ve found in AAAA records so far today:

BBC – bbc.net.uk – 2001:4b10:bbc::1

Facebook – facebook.com – 2620:0:1c18:0:face:b00c:0:3

Cisco – cisco.com – 2001:420:80:1:c:15c0:d06:f00d (Cisco dog food)

F5 Networks – f5.com – 2001:19b8:101:2::f5f5:1d

US Department of Commerce – commerce.gov – 2610:20:0:20:5ec:d0c:d0c:d0c

A few more, such as Daily Kos’ 2001:48c8:1:c::feeb:beef, seem deliberate but don’t seem to pertain particularly to the site’s brand.

I don’t think anybody’s going to use these addresses to navigate, but I suppose they make prove useful mnemonics for address administrators within those companies.

Experts say piracy law will break the internet

Kevin Murphy, May 26, 2011, Domain Tech

Five of the world’s leading DNS experts have come together to draft a report slamming America’s proposed PROTECT IP Act, comparing it to the Great Firewall of China.

In a technical analysis of the bill’s provisions, the authors conclude that it threatens to weaken the security and stability of the internet, putting it at risk of fragmentation.

The bill (pdf), proposed by Senator Leahy, would force DNS server operators, such as ISPs, to intercept and redirect traffic destined for domains identified as hosting pirated content.

The new paper (pdf) says this behavior is easily circumvented, incompatible with DNS security, and would cause more problems than it solves.

The paper was written by: Steve Crocker, Shinkuro; David Dagon, Georgia Tech; Dan Kaminsky, DKH; Danny McPherson, Verisign and Paul Vixie of the Internet Systems Consortium.

These are some of the brightest guys in the DNS business. Three sit on ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee and Crocker is vice-chairman of ICANN’s board of directors.

One of their major concerns is that PROTECT IP’s filtering would be “fundamentally incompatible” with DNSSEC, the new security protocol that has been strongly embraced by the US government.

The authors note that any attempts to redirect domains at the DNS level would be interpreted as precisely the kind of man-in-the-middle attack that DNSSEC was designed to prevent.

They also point out that working around these filters would be easy – changing user DNS server settings to an overseas provider would be a trivial matter.

PROTECT IP’s DNS filtering will be evaded through trivial and often automated changes through easily accessible and installed software plugins. Given this strong potential for evasion, the long-term benefits of using mandated DNS filtering to combat infringement seem modest at best.

If bootleggers start using dodgy DNS servers in order to find file-sharing sites, they put themselves at risk of other types of criminal activity, the paper warns.

If piracy sites start running their own DNS boxes and end users start subscribing to them, what’s to stop them pharming users by capturing their bank or Paypal traffic, for example?

The paper also expresses concern that a US move to legitimize filtering could cause other nations to follow suit, fragmenting the mostly universal internet.

If the Internet moves towards a world in which every country is picking and choosing which domains to resolve and which to filter, the ability of American technology innovators to offer products and services around the world will decrease.

This, incidentally, is pretty much the same argument used to push for the rejection of the .xxx top-level domain (which Crocker voted for).

ICANN hires hacker Dark Tangent as security chief

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2011, Domain Tech

Noted white-hat hacker Jeff “Dark Tangent” Moss is to join ICANN as its new chief security officer.

Moss founded the Black Hat and Def Con hacker conferences (which I highly recommend), and was once a director of firewall vendor Secure Computing.

If you’re not familiar with security lingo, “hacker” in this context means he’s one of the good guys. He’s also one of a couple dozen members of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council.

The ICANN press release announcing the appointment (pdf) is filled with plaudits from some of the industry’s top DNS security geeks.

Paul Vixie, chairman and chief scientist of the Internet Systems Consortium is quoted as saying:

This is a great hire for ICANN. Jeff’s been in the infosec community since the dawn of time and not only knows where the weak spots are but also how they got that way, and what needs to be done and by whom. He’s the ideal person to drive ICANN’s security agenda.

He’s also been named vice-president. He starts work at the ICANN Washington DC office tomorrow.

Plug-in works around seized domains

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2011, Domain Tech

Disgruntled coders have come up with a new Firefox plug-in to help people find piracy web sites after their domain names are seized by the authorities.

MAFIAA-Fire hooks into the browser, checking DNS queries against a list supplied by the developers, to see if the name corresponds to a seized domain.

If it does, the browser is redirected to an approved mirror. If it does not, the DNS query is handled as normal through the browser’s regular resolvers.

The plug-in was created in response to the seizure of domain names alleged to be involved in distributing bootleg movies, music and software.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has been sending court-ordered take-down notices to US-based registry operators such as VeriSign for the last several months.

Some sites immediately relocate to top-level domains outside of US jurisdiction. MAFIAA-Fire is designed to make the process of finding these new sites easier.

As the plug-in site acknowledges, if any fraudulent data were to make its way onto its manually-authenticated list of domains, it could cause a security problem for end users.

MAFIAA stands for “Music and Film Industry Association of America”, a corruption of RIAA and MPAA. The “Fire” suffix comes from the fact that fire melts ICE.

The plug-in, which was first reported by TorrentFreak, is hosted at a .com address.

Surf any .com with a text message?

Kevin Murphy, April 8, 2011, Domain Tech

A company called DotGo has launched a service it says will enable mobile phone users to access specially built web-based services using SMS text messaging.

This is (borderline) relevant to the domain name industry because DotGo has obtained the phone numbers that spell out DOTCOM, DOTORG, DOTNET, DOTEDU and DOTGOV when typed on handsets.

Using the system, developers use the company’s custom markup language to create a text-based service, for example a news feed, which they dump into their web server’s root directory.

Consumers can then access this service by sending the name of the service’s domain, minus the extension, to the number 368266 (DOTCOM).

So for cnn.com, you’d send the message “cnn” to 368266. CNN would then reply with a list of headlines from its RSS feed, say. You’d then reply with the number of the story you want to read.

Or you could text “weather 94110” to the same number to quiz weather.com about the forecast in San Francisco.

If this sounds overly complicated, there are a few demos you can try in a normal browser that may explain it better.

The DotGo service has been around for about 18 months, but it’s only today that the company has launched its suite of tools for developers.

The service appears to be ad-supported, free to both developers and users at the basic level with subscription-based upgrades available.

It’s all very clever, but will anyone want to use it? I hear there’s a thing called an “iPhone” nowadays that does a pretty good job at bringing the web to mobile users.

The service seems to be only available in the US (though the web site is pretty vague on that count) and no, DOTMOBI isn’t an option.