back to article Tiscali: breaking DNS for fun and profit

Tiscali is hijacking mistyped URLs to serve to its customers sponsored links. The ISP started rerouting DNS errors to a page plastered with advertising yesterday. An irate customer has started a thread on the firm's forums criticising Tiscali allowing a third party to pump ads for ringtones and dating sites. A screen grab of a …


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  1. C Frost


    Orange have been doing this for a while too, the bastards...

  2. Steve Best

    Tiscali Improved Browsing Experience - How to opt out?

    For further details on how to opt out of this service, please see the url shown below.


    Mr Tibbs

  3. Paul Urwin

    DNS system

    Your article ends with "OpenDNS is voluntary, and has a much bigger web address cache than ISPs. So is more likely to find what you were looking for than serve you a ringtone ad."

    But my understanding is that if your ISP's cache doesn't contain the DNS entry for the domain you have entered, it will ask one of the 13 root servers for it (it may try a few others along the way before that). So if the domain exists, you will always get to it, it's just that if your ISP has it cached it improves performance. So this scam doesn't impact your ability to get a domain name resolved, but it is obviously a terrible idea as stated in the article as it messes things up.

  4. Kevin Kempton

    Tiscali angers the customer again!

    Typical tiscali.

    Interesting how no information on removing it appears in the forums until this sites article.

    However they claimed that "opting out was always a plan". Yeh like...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You should not HAVE to opt-out

    This should be an opt-in option, not making you call a bloody premium rate number to fix something these morons have broken.

    And I thought Virgin Media were bad, thank god I'm not a Tiscali customer!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DNS hijacking? Do your own DNS.

    I got so sick of Verislime and their "sitefinder" fiasco that I started running BIND in delegation-only mode at home. Now, whenever I hit something that's NXDOMAIN, I get an NXDOMAIN error instead of a page full of ads.

  7. Terry Bernstein


    The 0870 number just adds insult

    They didn't pay me to put this thing on, why should I pay them to take it off.

  8. SImon Hobson Silver badge


    Could their actions be construed as an offence under our computer misuse legislation ? they are after all intercepting DNS queries and injecting false results with the sole intention of getting 'customers' to their website instead of the website they expected.

    That would be an interesting one to throw in the pot ! And since it's a criminal offence rather than a civil one, it would be CPS vs ISP rather than customer vs ISP when it comes to 'funds and clout' !

  9. Aubry Thonon


    I wonder... could this be considered fraud on the part of Tiscali? Follow my reasoning:

    - Tiscali charges the user for their download, including limits (caps or extra charge).

    - Tiscali has now forced a new "service" upon their user which adds to the download quota.

    In other words, Tiscali is now knowingly chewing up their user's download quotas. Fraud, surely.

  10. Scott Mckenzie

    It's simple...

    I left.

    The speed was always poor, the customer service wasn't much better, they were introducing caps etc... i've moved to a new ISP (Be Unlimited) and am paying £7 extra a month, have no limits, great support so far and 15Mbps downloads....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talk Talk are doing it too

    Tiscali aren't the only bunch of pillocks doing it.

    Talk Talk have a similar setup in place.

  12. Jim Halfpenny

    It's all for the good of the country

    "We are doing this by removing those irritating dead-end 'Page Cannot Be Displayed' messages that you see from time to time."

    Mr Flibble, have you actually tried using this service? The search engine is pisspoor and returns five sponsored links per query. How is that supposed to get anyone to where they're going?

    Tiscali's mewling rhetoric that this is to aid customers is laughable. Without removing all DNS search suffixes many DNS queries simply fail (or succeed depending on which way you look at iy) when the first one is matched, regardless of whether it really exists or not.

    You broke my internets and I wanna new one!

  13. Nick Wiseman

    It's not the end of the world

    I got the Tiscali DNS error page when I was surfing late last night. I fired off an email using the "Contact Us" form (why dial an 0870 number?) and received an apology at 09:53 this morning - i.e. Saturday. I have checked and indeed the page has gone. Since Microsoft hijacks the DNS error page anyway in IE unless you disable this feature, what Tiscali did was meely mildly annoying.

    For the record, Tiscali's reliability and speed has been very satisfactory these past few months after a shaky start. And no, I don't work for them.

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