WATPA: FW: Internet Software Consortium Releases Patch To Block VeriSign's Site Finder

From: Norm Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Thu Sep 18 2003 - 18:16:08 EDT

This is a follow-up to the earlier posting by Chris Candreva.


-----Original Message-----
Internet Software Consortium Releases Patch To Block VeriSign's Site Finder

Summary: VeriSign said its new service improves users' Web browsing
but critics say it allows VeriSign to profit from mistyped Web


SEPTEMBER 17, 2003

The Internet Software Consortium (ISC), the nonprofit group that publishes
BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) software, which runs 80% of domain name
servers, has released a patch that will block VeriSign Inc.'s new Site
Finder service.
According to the Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign, Site Finder is a
navigation tool that improves the users' Web browsing experience by
directing users who mistype a Web address ending in .com or .net to its own
search pages. Site Finder offers users alternatives to the incorrect
address, some of which are owned by companies that have paid VeriSign to be
placed on Site Finder.

"The official story [from VeriSign] is when users on the Internet make
mistakes, they would like to have a [more] useful error message like going
to a search page that would help them find what they were really looking
for," said Paul Vixie, president of the Redwood City, Calif.-based ISC. "I
guess VeriSign wants to sell advertising."

VeriSign spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy said Site Finder is much like a
service America Online Inc. and Microsoft Corp. already use to redirect
mistyped queries. He said that anytime there's an innovation some people who
are satisfied with the status quo will speak out.

But Vixie said the change can cause problems for mail servers. "Yesterday,
my phone started ringing off the hook from various people saying, 'VeriSign
is killing us. You've got to help me,'" Vixie said.

After some investigation, Vixie learned about Site Finder. Today, the ISC
released the software update that allows users to block Site Finder if they

Vixie said users are concerned that they no longer get an error message when
a domain didn't exist.

"We're talking about mail servers and electronic mail and other types of
protocol besides Web protocol," he said. "The lack of a reliable indication
of nonexistence meant that a lot of people were carrying traffic that they
shouldn't, or they were not able to detect spam based on forged sources
because there's no longer any such thing as a nonexistent domain -- they all
exist now. It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way."

O'Shaughnessy said that because the service is only several days old, it
still needs to be modified and that VeriSign is working with the Internet
community to develop any necessary fixes.

Source: Computerworld
Received on Thu Sep 18 18:15:59 2003

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