Controversial internet provider Net4U disconnected

, posted: 24-Dec-2003 22:15

Hamilton internet provider Net4U has had its data and telephone circuits disconnected by Telecom, allegedly over an unpaid debt of $90,000 that has been outstanding for six months.

The disconnection yesterday cut off Net4U customers from internet access without warning, and left site owners and virtual internet providers hosted by the Hamilton provider scrambling to find alternative network arrangements over the Christmas holidays.

According to Net4U employees, director Sahil Gupta did not inform them that Telecom would disconnect the small internet provider and still has not been in contact with any of the staff. Instead, Net4U network administrator Michael Jager says he and others heard of the disconnection from a friend of Gupta's. Net4U staff were "angry and disappointed at being left high and dry like this".

Unconfirmed rumours have it that Telecom will appoint a liquidator for Net4U. However, a check at the Companies Office shows no change in status currently.

The disconnection is the latest in a string of controversies to hit Gupta. In March this year, Gupta admitted to
stealing bandwidth from internet provider Attica/Callplus, in a recorded telephone call. Gupta and Net4U have also been targets of a long-running vendetta by a former employee who published the ISP's customer database on the web.

The 14-year-old computer hacker who goes under the online moniker "^god" is accused of using stolen credit cards to register a large number of New Zealand domain names online.

Many of the domains featured Net4U directors' names and their contact details, apparently entered as user details when the domains were purchased online using stolen credit card numbers.

The motive for the hacker's actions appears to be revenge. Some of the domain names are racist slurs, and all carry the name of Net4U Limited, as well as Sahil Gupta. The hacker was employed by Net4U and in September this year, published a large excerpt from a database belonging to

Net4U on the web. The database contained Net4U customers' credit card numbers, login passwords and their personal details. Asked about the fraudulent registrations, Gupta says the hacker "should be prosecuted and dealt with by the courts".

However, Gupta says that neither he nor Net4U will file another complaint against the hacker.

"We already have four to five complaints lodged against him with the police that haven't been acted upon. The police seems to think it's too hard to deal with."

Mr Gupta did not return calls from the Herald when contacted about his business being put off-line by Telecom.

The young hacker is known to the police. The police E-Crime Laboratory was notified of the database being in the  hacker's possession in September and said then that it would investigate the matter. The national manager of the E-Crime Laboratory, Maarten Kleintjes, denied that the hacker could expect to get away
scot-free due to being a minor.

"He can still be charged, even if he's a minor, if he has committed an offence," Kleintjes said. He added that the New Zealand Domain Name Commissioner will lay a complaint against the hacker today but would not
elaborate on what further actions would be taken by the police.

A list of sixty domain names sent to the Herald shows they were registered at New Plymouth registrar Webfarm Ltd, with a further twenty going through 1st Domains in Christchurch. At $39.95 each the registrations with Webfarm alone are worth $2,397.

Webfarm's managing director Richard Shearer says that his company is "co-operating with the NZ Domain Names Commissioner and is looking at what options are available, including making a complaint with the police."

Other related posts:
The problem with VDSL2, part 2
The problem with VDSL2
The mysterious Dynamic Line Management on VDSL2

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