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Thursday, 27 October 2011 11:00

The last month has taught me a lot about internet domain names...

In September, the domain cracknell.de registered through mochahost and set up to point to my personal web page section of this website was due for renewal.   Despite email communication with Mochahost to confirm the renewal, including a reply from them explicitly stating that the domains had been renewed, the domain cracknell.de was allowed to lapse.   I only noticed this by accident when I tried to access the web site via the domain.

This is where I entered the murky world of domain grabbing.   There are people out there who automatically register domains that expire on the principle that some of them will have expired by accident and theoriginal owners will want them back...   This happened to cracknell.de - a character called Rüdiger Meinecke had registered the domain - along with 14000 others!   Attempts to contact him directly via the support information in the domain registry failed.

Contact with mochahost was also distressingly unproductive.   Effectively they siad "sorry.   As compensation , we will register another domain for you..." - note, they already had the money from me for registering a domain so the compensation consisted of doing what they had already been paid to do, excepot that the domain in question was now gone.   End of the story with mochahost is that it would have been better if they had just said at the beginning "sorry, we fucked up, but there's nothing we can or are going to do about it.   'bye, have a nice day..." - at least then I would not have wasted so much time in communication with them.

One other disturbing aspect - I had some email accounts running off cracknell.de via smtp.   My mail software (outlook) continued to access an smtp server under the moved domain cracknell.de for a while without complaining!   i.e. my mail server logon had been subverted without me knowing it.   No signs that anyone expopited this and I have since changed all the relevant passwords anyway.   But still disturbing and indicative of how a professional scam exploit could be worked using expired domains.

20th October, I idly try to access www.cracknell.de and find a link to an ebay page offering the domain for sale, so I buy it back and hope to have it up and running again soon.   The link to the ebay page was not there a few days earlier, so the domain grabber had obviously been assesing the level of traffic trying to access the domain before deciding what to do with it.   It was annoying to have to pay, but it was a lot less than the value of my time spent on the problem and about on a par with what printing a new set of business cards would have been.   Hopefully I can now close the chapter...

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