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Network Solutions Gets Pwned
By: Michael Lowry
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    Table of Contents:
  • Network Solutions Gets Pwned
  • Get to Know Network Solutions
  • Dropping the Ball
  • Back to Basics

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    Network Solutions Gets Pwned - Get to Know Network Solutions

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    After being founded in 1979, Network Solutions has gone from a small technology consulting company to the third largest domain registrar according to these statistics. They have had their share of controversy in the past – most notably a lawsuit alleging antitrust violations in regards to being the sole registrar for .com, .net, and .org Top Level Domain (TLD) names. They had been allocating 30 percent of their fees to the National Science Foundation (NSF), who incidentally granted NSI the exclusive control over TLDs, to create an “Internet Intellectual Infrastructure Fund.” A court ended up ruling the allocation to be an illegal tax.

    As the de facto registrar in the early 90s and with the NSF behind them, Network Solutions was charging as much as $100 for two year registration on all domains – a bit excessive compared to today's standards. Add to this a policy of domain censorship (one incident involved one customer who was prevented from registering shitakemushrooms.com, but another was allowed to register shit.com) and you'll get a lot of aggravated customers and would-be competitors. It led to the creation of the International Ad Hoc Committee and ICANN, which opened the domain name industry to competition.

    If they can get past all that and still be among the leaders in domain name registration, then one wonders where they will end after this most recent controversy gets settled. It will be hard to convince any potential customer, or their competition for that matter, that this is “protection” against front running.

    Susan Wade, PR manager for Network Solutions, reiterates the fact that front runners monitor when the company checks other sites for availability when a customer searches. She says, “This search data is captured at the various registries. We believe there are registries and/or Internet service providers that may be selling this data to front-runners. So, by holding domains searched on Network Solutions, this preempts the search data being captured.”

    Larry Seltzer of eWEEK had this to say in response, “My word, that's on the short list for most self-serving, hypocritical excuse I've heard from a business. We're front-running in order to save you from the front-runners.”

    On January 9, a day after the story broke, Network Solutions announced some changes to the program: they changed the ad originally posted on reserved sites to an “under construction” page, although there is still a link to the company site, and newly reserved pages won't resolve to any page at all. Also, they will now only register domains searched for from the Network Solutions home page and not the Whois search page. Whether or not this will salvage any customers is yet to be seen. Keep reading to see how they failed to recognize the pitfalls of what they supposedly wanted to be a helpful tool for their customers.

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