URL Permanence and You

Or, Why You Should Be Careful Letting Domains Expire.

Some time ago I was approached by a client who was reporting broken images on their website. This isn’t an uncommon issue and is almost always easily resolved. But this one was different- the broken images were not from her domain at all. The web developer who had worked with her previously had maintained links to resources that they had no control over and, while this was the first time it had caused problems, it was not actually the worst case scenario- many terrible things can be done by loading resources you don’t control.

I quickly replaced the images with new stock photography and set about finding the root of the problem for my own reasons- I like to figure out what happened. As it turned out, the agency that had originally controlled these images (a small company out of the island of Malta) had gone out of business and failed to renew their domain.

What was a problem became opportunity, and I quickly purchased the domain, but failed to do more than put a placeholder on it as I became busy.

Recently, however, I revisited my old project. Surely my client was not the only one with images that weren’t their own- others had to be having this problem. I created a solution that would notify them and drive traffic to my agency, creating a simple php script that served appropriate images with my branding and contact information to anyone attempting to load resources from it. I also set up a mail redirect, to make sure that anybody inquiring about their website experiencing issues would be able to be helped.

But there was a small problem- the previous developer had many accounts that were still linked to their old company email. I began to get updates from Adobe, Behance, Instagram, and more. What started as a clever way of marketing myself quickly became a chance to hijack the social media footprint of an active developer’s entire work.

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that Odd Waters is a fair agency. We’ve located our errant developer and isolated their email address, and have begun forwarding their email to them. No harm, no foul- they are in complete control of their accounts, and I won’t be receiving their emails anymore.

This, however, is a problem for anyone who lets a domain name lapse. Not all people are as outwardly kind as the developers at Odd Waters, and many times malicious developers will use the information they can glean from newly expired domains to hijack your business’ reputation online. Your password may be long, but that doesn’t matter if they can receive a password reset request and change it to “password” or anything else they would like. They can quickly take your most valuable accounts, including payment processors and social media, using them to mislead or exploit your customers, or even take your hard-earned money!

When you have Odd Waters register a name on your behalf, you’re buying assurance that we will work with you to protect you from these outcomes. We will keep your domains updated, billing you when necessary, and will walk you through the necessary steps to protect you from the harsher outcomes of allowing a domain to expire.

Odd Waters has the holistic approach to web development and websites. Come see why we’re the best in Dallas!