Earlier this month, KrebsOnSecurity published The Reincarnation of a Bulletproof Hoster, which examined evidence suggesting that a Web hosting company called HostSailor was created out of the ashes of another, now-defunct hosting firm notorious for harboring spammers, scammers and other online ne’er-do-wells. Today, HostSailor’s lawyers threatened to sue this author unless the story is removed from the Web.
Obviously, I stand by my reporting and have no intention of unpublishing stories. But I’m writing about HostSailor again here because I promised to post an update if they ever responded to my requests for comment.
The letter, signed by Abdullah Alzarooni Advocates in Dubai — where HostSailor says it is based — carries the subject line, “Warning from Acts of Extortion and Abuse of the Privacy of Third Parties.” It lists a number of links to content the company apparently finds objectionable.
Could this same kind of legal pressure be why security industry giant Trend Micro removed all reference to HostSailor from the report that started all this? Trend hasn’t responded to direct questions about that.
Astute readers will notice in the letter (pasted below) a link to a Twitter message from this author among the many things HostSailor’s lawyers will like me to disappear from the Internet. That tweet to HostSailor’s Twitter account read:
“Potential downside of reporting ISIS sites: The hosting firm (ahem @HostSailor) may share your info/name/report with ISIS. Opsec, people!”
I sent that tweet after hearing from a source with whom I’ve been working to report sites affiliated with the jihadist militant group ISIS. The source had reported to HostSailor several of its Internet addresses that were being used by a propaganda site promoting videos of beheadings and other atrocities by ISIS, and he shared emails indicating that HostSailor had simply forwarded his abuse email on to its customer — complete with my source’s name and contact information. Thankfully, he was using a pseudonym and throwaway email address.
HostSailor’s twitter account responded by saying that the company doesn’t share information about its customers. But of course my tweet was regarding information shared about someone who is not a HostSailor customer. Continue reading →