[DNS] Internet Domain Names May Have Warned of Attacks

[DNS] Internet Domain Names May Have Warned of Attacks

From: Rowe, Joshua <Joshua.Rowe§auspost.com.au>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 10:00:32 +1000
Internet Domain Names May Have Warned of Attacks 
By Jeff Johnson 
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief 
September 19, 2001 


(CNSNews.com) - The terrorists who planned and executed the September 11
attack on America may have registered as many as 20 Internet domain names,
or web addresses, that experts believe should have warned authorities of a
possible assault on the World Trade Center in New York City. 

Internet domain names like 'attackontwintowers.com' and
'worldtradetowerattack.com' were registered more than a year ago. It's not
known at this time who registered the suspicious names or what their purpose

"It's unbelievable that they (the registration company) would register these
domain names, probably without any comment to the FBI," according to Neil
Livingstone, head of Global Options LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based
counter-terrorism and investigation company. 

"If they did make a comment to the FBI, it's unbelievable that the FBI
didn't react to it," he added. 

A spokeswoman in the FBI press office would only say that the agency will
not comment on its investigation into the attacks. 

According to Livingstone, at least 17 domain names, including
'pearlharborinmanhattan.com' and 'worldtradetowerstrike.com,' were
registered as early as June 2000, 15 months prior to the attacks. 

Two of the domain names contained the dates August 11 and September 29,
which Livingstone said may have indicated the window of opportunity during
which the attackers planned to strike. 

He also dismissed speculation that the domain names were a reference to the
bombing of the World Trade Center eight years ago. "You have two other names
containing 2001, so there's no confusion over the 1993 World Trade Center

To protect his sources, Livingstone would not say with which company the
domain names in question were registered. He had no information about the
identity of the person or people who registered the names. 

A domain name search Tuesday indicated that hundreds of web addresses
containing references to the terrorist attacks were registered in the past
week, and four of the older domain names provided by Livingstone have
already been re-registered. 

Domain name registrants are required to use a credit card for payment, and
must provide administrative, technical, and billing contact information. 

That information, except the credit card data, is available to the public as
long as the registration is kept current. 

Livingstone indicated that the required use of a credit card should mean
that authorities would at least have a starting point to investigate the

"This is something that someone should have noticed," he said, "but privacy
issues probably kept it from being noticed." 

Telephone calls to several domain name registration companies Tuesday were
not returned. 

The website for Network Solutions, the world's largest domain name
registrar, included a privacy statement indicative of industry standards
regarding confidentiality: "We will not share such information with other
third parties, except in response to formal requests (e.g., subpoena or
court order) made in connection with litigation or arbitration proceedings
directly relating to a domain name registration or other services we

Former CIA Director James Woolsey said current laws make it difficult for
the FBI to get a warrant for electronic surveillance and wiretaps, or to
recruit informants based on actions such as registering threatening domain

"There would not be enough material that is close enough to a specific crime
for an investigation to be opened," Woolsey said. 

But Livingstone believes authorities should have the right to investigate
inflammatory rhetoric, even something as simple as the registration of a web
address that might indicate criminal intent. 

"Something like this ought to come to our attention, and we ought to
investigate whether you do intend to act on it, or whether you're just a nut
case out there who's just venting," he said. 

The attackers might have been planning a propaganda campaign following the
attacks, according to Livingstone. "Maybe their success was so overwhelming
that they didn't need to use this," he said. "Or they may have decided it
was too dangerous to do." 

Domain names on the list provided to Livingstone by an industry insider



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Received on Fri Sep 21 2001 - 00:05:18 UTC

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