I’ve just had a note from No-IP that says that Microsoft has returned all twenty-tree of second level domains it had seized by court order. It’ll obviously take a while for DNS to propagate. I’ve been testing this periodically, and it’s been a right mess with the Microsoft DNS failing to return anything in many cases.
I actually use No-IP for a couple of non-critical purposes, but I don’t use the hostname under their second-level domain directly. Given recent events, others may wish to follow the same idea. It comes down to customer routers on domestic ISP lines, and how you get to them easily if they’re on a dynamic IP address.
Basically, the trick is to map yourname.no-ip.net to yourname.yourdomain.com using a CNAME in the zone file. You can then program to the router to register yourname.no-ip.net, but you refer to it as yourname.yourdomain.com. How does this help? Well when the problem happens you only have to mess with your zone file to make the changes. If you can find out the changeable dynamic IP you can set it as an A record directly. If (as was the case here) you needed to choose a new second-level domain from No-IP’s remaining stock, all you need to is change the zone file and the affected equipment. Anything else accessing it does so through yourname.yourdomain.com, and therefore can remain as-is.
It’s still a pain, and something for which Microsoft should probably pay (or their side of the story had better be spectacularly better than it has been thus far). But it’s somewhat less of a pain than if you’d programmed everything in your universe with the no-ip version.
Microsoft has accidentally taken down potentially millions of dynamic IP users while going after subdomains used by criminals taking advantage of the free No-IP service, run by Vitalwerks Internet Solutions in Nevada. Yesterday (US time) they used a court order to take control of domains belonging to no-IP, which their users map to their temporary dynamic addresses, and stopped them from all from working. According to No-IP themselves, what Microsoft tried to do is redirect the domain names to their own servers and filter off the bad ones, but they failed spectacularly because Microsoft’s servers weren’t up to the job (as per usual) and collapsed under the weight of traffic.
No-IP are decidedly hacked off by Microsoft, pointing out that they have a good reputation when it comes to dealing with abuse and had Microsoft but contacted them about the sub-domains in question they’d have done something about it. Instead, secretly, Microsoft goes and gets a court order and acts without warning.
According to, Richard Boscovich, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, “Despite numerous reports by the security community on No-IP domain abuse, the company has not taken sufficient steps to correct, remedy, prevent or control the abuse or help keep its domains safe from malicious activity”. He’s referring to Cisco here, as far as I know. The security community regularly reports on all anonymous free services, all of which are exploited by criminals. As yet, I’ve heard nothing from Microsoft to actually back his statement up. In another post, Microsoft’s Tom Rains, a marketing manager in the their Trustworthy Computing division, explains that they were after Bladabindi and Jenxcus, both of which use No-IP provided subnets in the C&C. He doesn’t imply any wrongdoing by Vitalwerks, or justify the way Microsoft has treated them.
Quite why Microsoft has any claim to be the world’s cyber-police is hard to see, given that most criminals (based on our research) prefer Microsoft’s free, no-checks, outlook.com email service. Perhaps Microsoft should try getting its own house in order first?
I’m still waiting for any official comment back from Microsoft.