Plan to secretly take control of becomes pain for clients

Wed, 8th May 2013, 22:44 has sent an email to customers regarding a potential security breach. The compromised data was said to potentially include usernames, email addresses, encrypted passwords, and encrypted credit card data. Name,com is hosted by But that is just the beginning... just try following this one!


According to a blog post

A group named HTP claimed responsibility for accessing Linode Manager web servers, we believe by exploiting a previously unknown zero-day vulnerability in Adobe’s ColdFusion application server. The vulnerabilities have only recently been addressed in Adobe’s APSB13-10 hotfix (CVE-2013-1387 and CVE-2013-1388) which was released less than a week ago.


Now HTP's version of events from Hacker News...

HTP ("Hack The Planet") is a group that likes to break into things. Another (unnamed) group of people impersonated a third group of people ("ac1db1tch3z") and tried to cause trouble for HTP.

The impersonators located HTP by examining one of HTP's botnets (a collection of compromised computers that are used to launch things like denial of service attacks). Botnets have to receive instructions (e.g., targets to attack) from somewhere, so it's likely that the impersonators followed the path taken by commands to the botnet, and found the network(s) that HTP uses to organize themselves.

HTP realized this, and wanted to get back at the impersonators. They found out that the impersonators used an IRC channel (chat room) hosted on a network called SwiftIRC. If HTP could break into SwiftIRC (which is hosted on Linode), they could cause all sorts of trouble for the impersonators. So HTP decided to break into Linode, so they could break into SwiftIRC, so they could break into the group of impersonators.

To break into Linode, HTP broke into their domain name registar ( They planned to secretly take control of, and replace it with a version of would look and feel and work correctly, but had one additional feature -- it would collect the login information that people typed in. HTP probably hoped to gain the login for SwiftIRC directly, or collect the logins for Linode admins and obtain SwiftIRC's login from there.

But, before they enacted the domain takeover (a maneuver that would likely be somewhat difficult to employ without being noticed), an HTP member discovered a new vulnerability in ColdFusion, the server software used by Linode. The ability to discover a new exploit on demand implies a high level of skill within the group. Using this exploit, HTP obtained direct access to Linode. They proceeded to gain access to SwiftIRC, as well as other sites hosted on Linode, including a well-known security site,

The FBI apparently had a mole in HTP, and they alerted Linode that HTP had access to This posed a bit of a problem for HTP: if it became public knowledge that they had obtained access to Linode, then perhaps they wouldn't have time to go after the impersonators using their newfound access to SwiftIRC. So, HTP tried to strong-arm Linode into staying quiet until May 1st. HTP had obtained the customer information and credit cards of all the Linode customers. HTP threatened to widely publish all this sensitive information if Linode didn't stay quiet. If Linode complied, then HTP would just delete all the info.

Linode, though, was forced by the FBI to announce that they'd been broken into. HTP told Linode to just publicly acknowledge that HTP was the group that broke into Linode, and they'd delete the sensitive info. Linode did so.

HTP conducted an internal investigation to determine which group member(s) were working with the FBI and kicked the mole out of the group.

Remember, this is the story according to HTP... but it is sweet!


The official email notice from recently discovered a security breach where customer account information including usernames, email addresses, and encrypted passwords and encrypted credit card account information may have been accessed by unauthorized individuals. It appears that the security breach was motivated by an attempt to gain information on a single, large commercial account at stores your credit card information using strong encryption and the private keys required to access that information are stored physically in a separate remote location that was not compromised. Therefore, we don’t believe that your credit card information was accessed in a usable format. Additionally, your EPP codes (required for domain transfers) were unaffected as they are also stored separately. We have no evidence to suggest that your data has been used for fraudulent activities.

As a response to these developments, and as a precautionary measure, we are requiring that all customers reset their passwords before logging in. If you use your previous password in other online systems, we also strongly recommend that you change your password in each of those systems as well.

We take this matter very seriously. We've already implemented additional security measures and will continue to work diligently to protect the safety and security of your personal information.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. If you need any additional assistance or have any questions please email We’ll continue to be as open and honest with you as possible as additional important information becomes available, so keep your eye out for a blog post or additional emails.

The Team

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