Hacker Steals MakeUseOf.com Domain, Blackmails Owner

A hacker has taken over the domain of Internet blog MakeUseOf.com, its publishers have confirmed, and is now trying to blackmail them over the ownership rights.

The site, which typically features Web site reviews and software tips, now takes you to a parked page at a registrar called NameCheap. If you look at the Google cache for the home page, however, you’ll find a message redirecting you to a temporary BlogSpot.com account with an explanation.

In a nutshell, the site’s staff says the hacker gained access to the Gmail account tied to their GoDaddy domain registration. He then contacted GoDaddy, they say, pretending to be the owner, and asked for the domain to be transferred. The Make Use Of team believes the entire process took him less than an hour.

But it didn’t end there. The guys from Make Use Of say they soon after received an e-mail from the apparent hacker — a person identifying himself as Ali Ferank, from Dubai — demanding money:

Hi there,
I said it very simply and very easily !
2 K !
Deal or not ?!
You own the domain I get the money…

So what now? GoDaddy is investigating the matter, Make Use Of Managing Editor Mark O’Neill indicates, and they will not give in to the blackmail.

“We will not pay a single cent of the $2000,” he says. “We will get our domain back and Make Use Of is going to come roaring back. We have worked so hard over the past couple of years and built up such a huge respected brand name on the web. We will not now see it come crashing down because of an opportunistic criminal.”

As for the registrar at which the domain currently resides, NameCheap, O’Neill says it has agreed to lock down the domain while the investigation is underway — so, at the very least, it cannot be moved again.

Make Use Of intends to keep its BlogSpot.com account updated with the latest info on the situation.