Microsoft Grabs No-IP.com Domains

Jul 01, 2014

Redmond rushes in to root out alleged malware haven.

In a dramatic move, Microsoft has obtained a court order to seize 22 domains from dynamic DNS provider No-IP.com because the domains were allegedly used by attackers to propagate the Bladabindi and Jenxcus malware tools. No-IP.com, one of the most popular dynamic DNS services, allows a customer to maintain a static DNS name even when using a dynamic IP address. Millions of customers use No-IP.com to maintain a permanent web presence while using an ordinary DHCP-based temporary IP address.
"Seizing" is an efficient business within the DNS system – all it really means is the authoritative name server for the domain was changed to a name server under Microsoft's control. Microsoft requested and received a court order for the action, accusing No-IP's owner Vitalwerks of providing a haven for malware criminals. Internet attackers like dynamic DNS services for the same reason other customers like them: They can hard code a permanent logical name into their intrusion scripts without revealing a permanent location associated with an IP address.
Microsoft accuses Vitalwerks of violating the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and other laws designed to combat the malware epidemic, stating that Vitalwerks and No-IP are not doing enough to prevent abuses. The Microsoft complaint states that No-IP “… functions as a major hub for 245 different types of malware circulating on the Internet.”
Vitalwerks expressed shock, stating that they have "a long history of proactively working with other companies when cases of alleged malicious activity is reported to us." Company officials said Microsoft didn't bother to reach out to them before moving to block the offending domains through a court order. The action was supposed to only affect a few targeted subdomains, but Vitalwerks says Microsoft's actions have interrupted service for millions of customers.
The implications for the dynamic DNS industry will depend on the details of the case. Is the whole concept of dynamic DNS risky by nature, or, as Microsoft alleges, did No-IP.com have a lackadaisical attitude toward preventing abuses? So far, neither the judge nor the many lawyers have addressed the irony of the world's leader in insecure, virus-laden software accusing another company of providing a safe environment for malware. 

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