This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more.X

URL shortening site hacked to redirect millions of links

Share this article:

The Cligs URL shortening site was hacked during the weekend to cause 2.2 million links to redirect to the same site.

When users clicked on a link that had been reduced in character count by Cligs, instead of going to the expected site, they went to a page on the Orange County Register newspaper website. The site wasn't malicious, nor had it been compromised.

“Normally most hacking attacks we see today are all about money,” Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, told SCMagazineUS.com on Tuesday. “Normally, you'd see a redirect to a site that installs malware or some other money-maker. But there is no evidence of that at all.”

The motive for the redirect hack remains unclear. It could have been an attempt at a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, but little evidence exists that it was effective.

“It could have been a mistake,” Cluley said. “They could have wanted to redirect people to one place, but misspelled something and sent everyone to the wrong place.”

The method by which the hack was made is unknown as well, and Cligs has not gone into detail other than to say that there was a security hole in its functionality that enabled users to edit an old link. If a link was set up on the site and later discovered to contain a mistake, it may have been possible to go back and change it.

“The security hole may have enabled hackers to edit links that were not theirs,” Cluley explained.

What should users do to guard against possible malicious redirects? Because, by their very nature, URL shorteners obscure the real URL, Cluley suggested that it would be prudent to have a browser plug-in, script or other functionality that always expands URLs automatically.

“With that functionality, it means you will at least know where you are going before you go there,” he said.

The lesson here is how a single vulnerability could potentially cause widespread damage on the internet.

“This is a single point of weakness where hackers were able to break in and potentially affect a large number of people,” Cluley said. “Normally, it would be a lot more complicated to influence so many links."

Cligs is the fourth most popular URL-shortening service on Twitter.

Share this article:
close

Next Article in News

SC webcasts on demand

This is how to secure data in the cloud


Exclusive video webcast & Q&A sponsored by Vormetric


As enterprises look to take advantage of the cloud, they need to understand the importance of safeguarding their confidential and sensitive data in cloud environments. With the appropriate security safeguards, such as fine-grained access policies, a move to the cloud is as, or more, secure than an on-premise data storage.


View the webcast here to find out more

More in News

China refutes new FBI hacking claims

China refutes new FBI hacking claims

It's been another week of claims and counterclaims as the US and Chinese governments accuse each other of deviant cyber security practices.

SC Exclusive: Bank of England to appoint new CISO in January

SC Exclusive: Bank of England to appoint new ...

Bank of England Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Don Randall is to leave his post in the New Year to take up an unspecified supervisory role, with William Brandon set ...

Sandworm vulnerability seen targeting SCADA-based systems

Sandworm vulnerability seen targeting SCADA-based systems

Hard on the heels of the `Sandworm' spy group revealed by iSIGHT Partners earlier in the week, Trend Micro says its has spotted the zero-day vulnerability of the same name ...