How to hack China for just $1,800

A Chinese domain name that is for sale could be misused, security experts say

Fraudsters may have a hot deal waiting for them in the form of an obscure Chinese domain name that's for sale on the Internet.

The domain is for sale, according to a note posted on the Web site. That fact probably doesn't mean much to most people, but to Duane Wessels it's a big deal. He says that if it fell into criminal hands it could be misused for phishing or other types of fraud.

Wessels, the president of Measurement Factory, owns five wpad domains --,,, and Between them, he gets 5 million hits per day. Most of them come from Windows computers erroneously looking for network configuration information, thanks to a decade-old Windows bug that Microsoft first fixed in 1999.

Nobody knows why sites like Wessels' continue to get so much traffic long after Microsoft patched the flaw. He thinks it may come from old versions of Windows, obscure programs with built-in Web components, or perhaps even misconfigured servers on the network. Microsoft did not respond to a query about the issue on Tuesday.

According to Wessels, if criminals were to take control of the domain they could set themselves up as a proxy Web server for their victims, redirecting them to a phishing site or sneaking unwanted ads onto their computers.

The flaw that sends so much traffic to Wessels' sites lies in the way some PCs search for a Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) server on the network. These servers are trusted machines, set up by administrators to send the PC a Web configuration file called wpad.dat.

The WPAD server's name will start with wpad (as in so, using a technique known as DNS devolution, Windows systems will search far and wide for a machine starting with those four letters. Unfortunately, this sometimes sends them out of the network -- to Wessels' Web site, for example. Computers in China that were similarly misconfigured would likely look to the domain.

Wessels and other DNS experts think that someone could probably misuse the domain by sending malicious wpad.dat files to those computers. "It could be used to mine information like account names and account numbers," said Cricket Liu, vice president of architecture with Infoblox. "You could potentially modify any content that they might see."

Contacted by IDG News Service, brokers representing the domain owners offered to sell it cheap. In an instant-message interview, an agent with Aomei New Investment Consulting said the domain could be had for ¥12,000 (US$1,760).

For criminals, that would be a pretty good deal, said Tomasz Koperski, the vice-CEO with, which has acquired more than 40 wpad-related domains. He owns the domain, for example, which has received more than 5 million hits so far this month from computers looking for wpad.dat files, he said via instant message.

The owners probably don't know about the WPAD issue, Wessels said. "My guess is that they are not noticing that they get a lot of requests for this proxy autoconfig file," he said. "If they knew what they had there they would probably charge more."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?