Archive for the 'Domain Names' Category

HOLLYWOOD HACKING: WIKILEAKS

“Hollywood Hacking” is the trusty cinema cliche whereby a geek with a laptop hits lots of buttons on his keyboard very quickly, says “we’re in” (or something similarly breezy), and gains access to the military system/bank account of his choosing. While Hollywood Hacking is usually very silly and completely unrealistic, the current Wikileaks saga is actually happening right now, in real life, and there’s more than a touch of unbelievable Hollywood Hacking about the whole tale.

As you’ll probably be aware, Wikileaks is the whistleblowing website that last week made available for download more than 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables. The cables contain correspondence between American embassies throughout the world and the U.S. State Department, and their contents are proving to be highly embarrassing for the U.S. Government and its allies.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been placed on Interpol’s Most Wanted list (for “sex crimes” being investigated by the Swedish authorities, although the US government is also investigating if espionage laws were broken), and the Wikileaks website is under continuous heavy attack from unidentified and mysterious “internet hackers”.

These hackers are bombarding the site, or more accurately, the computer servers which hold or “host” its content, with “Distributed Denial of Service” (“DDoS”) attacks of unprecedented ferocity. (In DDoS attacks incoming messages flood the target system and force it to shut down, thereby denying service to the system to legitimate users).

In an attempt to defend itself, Wikileaks moved last week from smaller internet providers to a larger one whose servers would be more likely to withstand a DDoS assault. Wikileaks provider of choice was Amazon.com and its’ much-vaunted EC2 cloud computing system, which operates on vast banks of computers, meaning that network capacity can be quickly scaled up or down to meet surges in traffic. The tactic was working well for Wikileaks until Amazon.com decided on Thursday to kick them out.

In a blogpost, Amazon.com denied that it was acting under pressure from politicians, saying WikiLeaks had breached its terms by not owning the rights to the content it was publishing. (I imagine Amazon.com might also have been a bit nervous about potential liability for the illegally sourced cables.)

The wikileaks.org web address was then withdrawn from Wikileaks because its domain name service provider EveryDNS.net claimed that WikiLeaks had violated part of its Acceptable Use Policy, which requires members not to “interfere with another member’s use and enjoyment of the service or another entity’s use and enjoyment of similar services. WikiLeaks had interfered with other members’ service because, said EveryDNS, “wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple DDoS attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites.”

Wikileaks solution has been to move to Switzerland, with a new domain wikileaks.ch.  The domain name is registered by the Pirate Party of Switzerland, associated with an IP address in Sweden, and points to a web address in France (where the Wikileaks documents are actually believed to be hosted).  If wikileaks.ch is also withdrawn, Wikileaks has announced that content will still be accessible by bypassing the DNS look-up and typing in Wikileaks’ actual IP address: http://88.80.13.160/.

Over the weekend online payment service provider PayPal cut off the WikiLeaks account, eliminating one of the easiest means for donors to send money to the organisation. It’s simply impossible to tell what’s going to happen next!   The latest development is that Julian Assange is under arrest, having voluntarily reported to a police station in central London this morning.

Who said Tech Law was boring? Hopefully in the inevitable Hollywood dramatisation of the saga there will at least be a cheeky cameo of yours truly writing this blog.

Twittersquatting

So, cybersquatters have hit Twitter and Hyundai are considering court action to prevent someone displaying racy pictures and a caption saying, “Have a lustful day” under their name on Twitter. According to this report a number of large brands including Diageo, Burger King, Nike and Volkswagen all have squatters sitting on their accounts.

The UK courts have come down hard on cybersquatters and the Court of Appeal decision in One in a Million virtually outlawed the practice. The One in a Million approach was given express approval by the Court of Session in Scotland in Bonnier Media. In addition, cybersquatters also have to contend with the cheaper and more informal online dispute resolution policies such as the ICANN policy  meaning that a trade mark proprietor or brand owner can generally get their domain name back from a blatant cybersquatter for a few thousand pounds. Obviously there are always grey areas and cybersquatters have become more sophisticated with many seeking smaller sums in order to avoid being seen to be blatantly holding domains to ransom.

So, is there likely to be a lucrative cybersquatting trade in Twitter accounts? In the UK anyway I think this is unlikely. It appears that Twitter are, at present, doing what they can to re-assign well-known brands, even if it does take some time. If this did ever come before the Courts in England or Scotland I’d be very surprised if the approach taken was any different to that taken in One in a Million; that registration of a Twitter account relating to a well-known brand amounted to passing off and, if applicable, trade mark infringement.

In the meantime, no doubt Hyundai will see a significant increase in traffic to their Twitter site.

Iain-Rutherford

Domain names and CPD hours!

Just a quick reminder about our next event in the firm’s autumn seminar series.

Iain Rutherford and Grant Campbell will be talking about domain name disputes next Wednesday, 7 October, from 9 till 10am at our Glasgow offices. The session is a practical look at the rights involved in domain name disputes and the options available for resolving them. It also provides some suggestions on formulating an online brand protection strategy.

This week’s session in Edinburgh brought out some interesting views from our audience on the law’s stance on cyber squatting and in particular the extent to which the law should view it as legitimate entrepeneurship.

For more details and to register, please take this link.

Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to contact one of us if you would prefer.

Eleanor Peterkin

New domain name scam from Asia

Over the last month some of our clients have received  emails relating to domain names from Asia.  The wording varies but the gist of the message is that someone has approached the sender in order to register a domain name which includes our client’s brand, but with the suffix of an Asian territory e.g. .cn, .hk, .tw.

The email then states that the sender has suspended the application in order to allow the recipient (our client) to register the domain name first (usually at quite an expensive price).

Douglas, who’s been in this business longer than me says that this is old domain name scam, but with an Asian flavour.  Previously the emails came from a dodgy company in York, now they come from Asia!

The key point is that there is no third party seeking to register the domain name.  Its just a pressure sales technique to sell over-priced domain registration services.

Normally our advice  is to ignore these emails. if you are scared you will “lose” the relevant domain name then you should register the domain name with your normal supplier (typically your ISP). It will be cheaper.

Remember also that if someone has registered a domain name featuring your brand then you may be able to block that registration using ICANN‘s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution policy.

And, of course, if anyone has any further info on this scam, we’d be happy to hear from you.


Twitter: @BrodiesTechBlog feed

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