Qwest Starts Hijacking DNS

I guess this may have started a few months ago, but I just noticed today that Qwest.net, my ISP and DSL provider, has started hijacking incorrect domain names.

The way the interenet is supposed to work, is that when you click on a link in your browser, or type in a url, your computer asks a nearby DNS server (usually at your ISP) what IP address is associated with the hostname (ie geekfun.com). The DNS server asks a succession of other DNS servers for the answer. If it doesn’t get a satisfactory answer back, it lets your computer know that there is no IP address associated with the name. Whatever application you are using can then decide how best to handle the error. If the DNS server tries to get clever, and provide an IP# of one of the ISPs webservers instead, you get deprived of a useful error message.

Other ISPs have been doing this for a while. They position it as helpful service, but in actuality, they do it because they get a cut of ad revenue on the pages they redirect people to.

Qwest is taking a somewhat conservative approach in rolling this out. They aren’t hitting you with the ad pages right away, they serve a page telling you that they are going to start hijacking your typos (not that they are so plain-spoken about what they intend to do), and they give you an easy way to opt-out, which I’ve done.

Still, one more thing to be aware of when trying to diagnose a name resolution problem.

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