back to article Network Solutions hijacks customer sub-domains for ad fest

Shameless domain registrar and web hoster Network Solutions is hijacking its customers' sub-domains, filling these pilfered pages with a sea of money-making ad links. And you can guess where the money goes. Earlier this week, a man named Win Betteridge told TechCrunch that Network Solutions pulled this clever little trick …


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  1. Planeten Paultje

    I tested this.....

    .....with my own domain name, like: and all the permutations I tried reverted to the registered name. Very nice job by my registrar (should be standard configuration with any registrar of course).

  2. Brett Brennan

    Like this is unexpected from NS

    Read Kieren McCarthy's "SEX.COM" to see how Network Solutions has worked the EULA pretty much from day 1. Bastards.

  3. Matt


    I hope before I die I may once be in a position as a IT Director or such with seven figures or better worth of business with VeriSign.

    Just so I can go out to an expensive restaurant on with regional sales managers, on their dime of course, and at the end of the meal tell them my company will do business with VeriSign over my dead body.

    Their policies screwed with me on my main personal domain back in the 1990s.

    It's the only company (or person) I truly hold a grudge against and they so soured me back then with detestable policies and piss poor attitudes I will never, ever under any circumstances voluntarily conduct with business with the slithering snakes again.

  4. James

    it's just plain unethical

    This is dishonest and unethical. Domain owners should receive at least free hosting if their domains are used to produce ad revenue. What if you don't agree with the advertising on your domain or worse yet, what if somone sues you for false advertising?

  5. Haku

    Unbelievably despicable

    If my hosting provider did something like that then I'd be looking for a new one ASAP, even if you can opt-out it's morally wrong that you're automatically opted in, though when did morals ever get in the way of making a quick dollar...

    I still say Bill Hicks hit the nail square on the head with his piece about "if anyone here is in marketing or advertising, kill yourself" -

  6. Anigel

    Makes you wonder

    Why people still trust these muppets to do anything

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Fortunately, I manage my own dns servers and don't have to suffer sites being hijacked, but even using "notwork solution's" site to administrate my domains is painful - almost every operation requires clicking through force-fed crap while paying them for the "privilege".

    Ten years ago they had my respect and confidence, but now they're little better than a well run spam operation systematically milking everyone at every opportunity, and I resent being treated like a gullible customer.

    If one has to become a registrar to be able to manage one's own domains painlessly, then sign me up!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opt out

    So how can you opt out? I've just done a quick scan of their we site and I cannot find a way.

  9. s. pam Silver badge

    they've not done my subs

    and i don't have any but i do have a lot of active content. sounds like pwned or other rubbish and not a real issue from testing some other domains we have hosted.

    urban myth in the making?

  10. David Harper

    I dumped NS five years ago

    My web site domains were originally registered through NS, but five years ago I dumped them and moved to pairNIC, which provides a far superior service, including hiding my contact email address behind an alias which changes every few days to foil spammers.

  11. James Prior


    You say you haven't got any sub domains - well thats why you are not seeing it.

    The article says that if you have a sub domain (say one you created because you thought you may need it in the future) but you are not using it for anything then they'll hijack it.

  12. krakead


    Worse still, what if they use it to advertise competing products or services?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Most big shared hosting providers cash in on this...

    ...'nice little earner'. Fasthosts and 1&1 to name two. Register any domain, and unless you've setup your own web page or forwarding, it will instantly go on their Sedo account or similar instead of offering a 404 Not Found :/

  14. Dave Bell

    Mixed feelings.

    If it were clearly some sort of 404 page with added adverts, I might tolerate this sort of thing. OK, it would really depend on the details. But, switching from site-owner to British ADSL user, I'd be really pissed off with adverts using up my bandwidth.

  15. Peter Leech Silver badge

    Opt out

    >So how can you opt out? I've just done a quick scan of their we site and I cannot find a way.

    Setup a custom 404 error page. I'd imagine that doing that would prevent their page from displaying if you don't have anything present in your subdomain.

  16. John Lodge


    This is bl##dy outrageous. Just checked 2 dormant domains, and and they are promoting our competitors!

    I new that Network Solutions were a touch unethical but this????

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    sub domain wildcards...


    problem solved.

    I use network solutions and I have assigned sub domains that go to various places however I assisgn a wild card to my sub domains that basically says. whatever you type... you're coming to my primary location. That negates the whole issue. However I do agree, this stinks!

    Mines the one with the "Domain names for Dummies" book in the pocket.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just because you F-ing can...

    doesn't automatically mean you f-ing should.

  19. g e

    Filthy bastards

    Still, just wildcard your subdomains and you should be ok?

    Reminds me of when Verisign(?) did that whole wildcard thing a few years back.

  20. b shubin

    Tiger stripes

    NSI was always sleazy, going back to their monopoly days (some companies just have a certain odorous je-ne-sais-quoi, you know?).

    in an entropic universe that is constantly in flux, it is reassuring to see that some things never, ever change.

  21. Dave

    GoDaddy does it too

    Only it's worse. If you make up a subdomain that starts with "www" (ie you first get a very simple parking page that for some strange reason seems obsessed with porn and adult "novelties". But if you refresh that page, you get a much milder page with no porn. WTF? There is no porn on, so I can't see why GoDaddy puts it in the parking page. Maybe they are just a bunch of horny sex-crazed buggers after all...

  22. PoliticalPsychosis

    NS Known for Questionable Actions

    Anyone involved with the net thats over 30 will recall at one time Network Solutions was the ONLY game in town.

    Network Solutions (like many American Corporations) once had a good standard of business but fell into the American Corporation Trens of Greed and "Do whatever we want" mission statement.

    When people PAY for something there should NOT be loopholes allowing others to make money from that Paid service or product.

    Offering an Opt Out for something that most users are un aware of should be illegal to say the least. Where I live policy, terms, conditions and the such are NOT bindable or enforceable unless one has been made aware of it. Sticking "Questionable" items deep in an EULA should not be allowed either.

    I have a set or Terms and Policy as well (yes its actually legal) and anyone using my Debit Card to take a payment becomes bound to them, the notice is on the back of my card, so if I was with NS they would owe me 90% of the revenu.

    Remember Network Solutions is/was in mega Legal hot water with ICAN for holding Domain Names that people looked up using the NS WhoIs. That should have been a sign that other "Questionable" issues would follow.

    Suggestion: DONT USE Network Solutions

  23. Jeff Dickey

    Those who see ethics as obsolete and as a liability...

    deserve to get shafted as badly as the sum total of what they've dished out to others. With interest. I will never again do business with Network Solutions, Inc, nor with any known subsidiaries, successors or assigns. Two of the first questions I ask any Web-development client prospects are "who is your hosting provider? who is your registrar?" If either of those come back "NetSol" or "I don't know" (depressingly common for registrars), I show them a whois on their domain along with the first few pages of search-engine results for "network solutions" and several 'colorful metaphors' such as those expressed above. You'd be amazed at the cluelessness; some of these people wouldn't know a cluetrain if it ran them over whilst they were tied to the rails.

    @John Lodge: "a touch unethical"? is that like "a little bit pregnant" or "slightly evil"? Details (off-list, natch) would be highly appreciated; ay and all available weapons we can use to beat these fraudsters and those who would willingly become victims into a bloody pulp with only subatomic cohesion are, in my view, a Very Good Thing.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem comes

    when the search engines index the pages.

    Then you have brand shift which is not under your control but is tied intimately.

    Personally I have kept an eye on this phenomena, and this article has made me go and sort out a DNS server for my domains.

    It is just a touch unethical on the registrar's behalf, but they really only sell you the registration - the name resolution has to be done using a name server, and that is not what you have bought, it is an added thing. So, yeah sure most would not buy a domain that could not be resolved, so they do tend to give this away to drive sales. But, it is not their responsibility on the purchase of the domain name, to provide a name server to handle the requests. That would be a different product.

    It is like buying a car with no petrol in it. Most places will give you half a tank or so, until you can get to a petrol station. Of course what they do here, is say no need to buy petrol as long as we can advertises on the wheel caps etc.

    Thing is most people don't understand DNS - and to be fair it is not that simple,.Until you realise that we don't need any of these governing bodies in DNS you have not understood DNS. The governing bodies are useful to have but not a necessity. If enough people wanted to drop the current DNS system - it could be done overnight, I am not sure why we don't do it actually, it is a good way to make an elitist tech only DNS system, IP 6.5 anyone? - keep the barbarians from the gates, without going too dark netesque.

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