Toronto
2 min

Hacker snags Pride site

NO MORE. Johnny Abush lost faith in his business partners. Credit: Image by Stephen Epstein

Unsuspecting ‘net users looking for the website of Toronto’s Pride committee are getting a nasty surprise.



Due to a simple mistake by the committee and the work of a skillful hacker, visitors to www.torontopride.com are bounced instead to the home of a company that promises get-rich-quick schemes on-line.



“We provide easy ways for people to make money,” says Boris Panteleev, of www.spedia.net. He’s Spedia’s administrative and technical contact in Castro Valley, California.



One way members can make money, says Panteleev, is by referring others to the site.



“If someone registers with Spedia and enters a referral ID number, the person who referred them gets 25 percent of their funds.



“Apparently the owner of this domain name decided to redirect it to spedia.net in order to increase points,” says Panteleev. “We

can’t really control that.”



Pride accidentally allowed its hold on torontopride.com to expire.



According to Network Solutions, the US company that controls all domain names, the name is currently owned by Xolmotuico Ueguor of Omsk, Russia. His phone and fax number as given as the same nine-digit, non-existent figure.



Ueguor seems to be the creation of a hacker who has decided to bounce homos right into the waiting arms of Spedia.net.



The Pride committee must wait for Ueguor’s hold on the site to expire.



Cheryl Regan, the media representative for Network Solutions, says this sort of thing happens all the time.



“This does happen frequently. We actually do more modifications and changes than new registrations.”



Regan says cybersquatters and hackers dig through the company’s database to determine when accounts are going to expire, and then snap up the domain names.



Such squatters can then use the names for free while invoices pile up. This can go on for months – until service is suspended, or the original owner pays hard cash to get the site back.



The Pride site was registered two years ago, says spokesperson Martin Zibauer. When that volunteer moved on, so did the e-mail address that Network Solutions had – and invoices were lost in cyberspace.



Zibauer says that the same problem will not happen with the committee’s other site name, www.pridetoronto.com.



“Pridetoronto.com is registered by [the generic] webmaster@pridetoronto.com now,” Zibauer says, “so there will always be someone receiving the e-mails. We’ve fixed the problem.”



In the meantime, Panteleev and Spedia seem confused about whether they should stop clients from re-directing ‘net traffic to their site.



“Automated redirection to yourname.spedia.net URLs utilizing URL redirection technology is strongly prohibited,” the site warns clearly.



Panteleev is much less clear.



“No, we don’t discourage anyone from redirecting,” he says. “In fact we have a referral program, and some people re-direct from their own websites to us.”