Political hackers deface Network Solutions-hosted sites

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Hackers recently defaced hundreds of websites hosted by Network Solutions, the company said Tuesday.

The hackers were able to break into several of Network Solutions' servers and then display their illegitimate content on top of the actual content of victimized websites, Shashi Bellamkonda, head of social media and strategy for Network Solutions, told SCMagazineUS.com on Wednesday.

The hacks appear to be politically motivated, Bellamkonda said. Hacked sites displayed an image that included Arabic writing and contained the phrases “FOR PALESTINE” and “HaCKed by CWkomando."

“It seemed like they wanted to profess some Middle East politics,” Bellamkonda said.

Network Solutions began receiving calls late last week from customers whose websites were defaced, Bellamkonda said. No personally identifiable information or credit card numbers have been compromised.

“Our security team investigates any reports,” Bellamkonda said. “They have been working tirelessly to find the cause of this and how to fix it.”

Network Solutions' security team knows how the hackers broke into the company's servers, but Bellamkonda declined to provide details.

“We have been very upfront with information, but we are also conscious that the bad guys will use this information,” Bellamkonda said.

He added that once they broke in, the hackers used a technique called “file inclusion” to pull the unauthorized file from another server to display it on victimized sites.

Network Solutions is working to remove the defacements from affected sites, Bellamkonda said. In addition, the company is working with law enforcement to investigate.

“These incidents are regrettable and we apologize for the inconvenience,” Bellamkonda wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

In response to the news, Josh Shaul, vice president of product management at database security vendor Application Security, told SCMagazineUS.com in an email Wednesday that this attack is "just another example of hackers trying to show what they can do."

"The Network Solutions' websites were an easily accessible target and a large sounding board for these political statements," he said.

Shaul added that despite this incident, examples of website defacements are declining overall, as hackers turn their attention to stealing sensitive data from organizations.

“There's no money in defacing a website,” Shaul said.

Last July, Network Solutions revealed that it suffered a separate breach of approximately 573,928 individuals' credit card numbers. The web-hosting firm discovered unauthorized code on its servers used to support thousands of e-commence merchants' websites, which may have been used by cybercriminals to capture transaction data –  including customer names, addresses and credit card numbers – and transfer it to servers outside of the company.

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