Monday, December 05, 2005

The hijacking of a podcast's RSS feed

eWeek has the story of how a cyber-squatter hijacked the RSS feed for "Erik's Diner," a podcast produced by Erik Marcus, publisher of

It all started when Marcus discovered that the Yahoo podcast directory listed not his RSS feed, but one belonging to a site named When his efforts failed to get Yahoo to correct the listing, he went to Podkeyword, which agreed to drop the duplicate feed. It was then that Marcus discovered that Apple's iTunes service also had the Podkeyword RSS feed. When Podkeyword dropped the feed, he suddenly lost roughly 1,000 iTunes subscribers.

This sent him back to Podkeyword asking to reinstate his listing. But, according to eWeek, Podkeyword reportedly responded that the listing would be reinstated only if Marcus provided an unspecified payment or agreed permanently to its terms.

The moral of the story, says eWeek writer Lisa Vaas, is that RSS feeds are far more vulnerable to squatters than Web site domains, because hijacking an RSS feed requires no stolen passwords or other overtly illegal tactics. She explains:
"Rather, it merely involves finding a target Podcast and creating a unique URL for it on a Web site that the hijacker can control. The hijacker then points his URL to the RSS feed of the target Podcast.

"Next, the hijacker does whatever it takes to ensure that, as new Podcast engines come to market, the page each engine creates for the target Podcast points to the hijacker's URL instead of to the Podcast creator's official URL."
In her blog, Marcus' lawyer, Colette Vogele, tells how to protect yourself against RSS hijacking.


Anonymous said...

have you seen this?,1895,1896434,00.asp

According to George Lambert, creator of the Podkey redirection service that allegedly hijacked a Podcast and held it for ransom, the alleged victim registered with his service to begin with and the 'ransom' simply represents fees that would be required to do the custom coding the Podcaster has demanded.

Anonymous said...

didn't you find the lack of "PodKey was unavailable for content unusual?" Shouldnt one of the 30 sites that covered this story have verified it first?