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MSN Taiwan visitors wind up elsewhere

Slip-up allowed a personal Web site to scoop up traffic intended for Microsoft's Web portal; the software maker apologized Friday for the goof.

Microsoft apologized Friday for a problem earlier this week that caused some visitors to its MSN site in Taiwan to be redirected to a non-Microsoft site.

The software maker said that only a small portion of its visitors were affected and that the problem had been fixed.

"Upon notification of this issue, Microsoft took immediate and appropriate action and has resolved the issue. Microsoft is not aware of any customer impact as a result of this activity but will continue to monitor the situation and take any additional action required to help protect customers," Christopher Budd, Microsoft security program manager, said in a statement to CNET News.com. "Microsoft apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused to its customers."

For a time, users who tried to link to MSN's Web site in Taiwan by typing www.msn.com.tw were redirected to a personal Web page, whose author claimed that "someone at Microsoft messed up."

"It looks like they made a typo when entering the DNS information for their domain msn.com.tw", the site's owner wrote on the page. "Now I control one fifth of the visitors and e-mails to sites at msn.com.tw."

The site promised that no malicious actions against visitors were occurring, but cautioned: "Don't count on Microsoft for security! Try Linux, it's secure, easy and free!"

CNET Taiwan reported the problem earlier Friday, noting that when its reporter first contacted the software maker's offices there, a representative said they were not aware of the hack. "We didn't notice that our home page was being redirected," said one representative from Microsoft's local office. "The server of the site was hosted in the U.S. and maintained by our technicians over there."

A Microsoft representative said the company was notified of the issue Wednesday afternoon and said it "resolved the issue within hours."

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Joseph Chen reported from Taipei, Taiwan, and Ina Fried reported from San Francisco.