Domain name research hijacking

Posted in , Sun, 23 Jul 2006 14:40:00 GMT

One of the most valuable assets for a website is its domain name. Whenever I check to see if a new domain I want is available or not, part of me wonders if just the act of looking for domain name would make it unavailable, i.e. if someone is scanning domain name look ups. I've always written this off as being too paranoid but Larry Seltzer reports this is exactly what Chesterton Holdings is doing. Chesterton Holdings' webpage essentially admits they are using an automated shotgun approach to acquire domain names which may result in many names they don't have the rights to:

We acquire domain names through an automated process rather than by any process that would intentionally infringe on any person's rights. If you have any questions about a domain, please submit your query to us below. It is our policy to transfer a domain name to any entity that, in our reasonable opinion, has a legitimate claim. We will promptly transfer a domain name to you if you can show us that you have a legitimate claim.

Larry checks for domain availability on the CNet Domain Search Page (the link provided doesn't seem to go there anymore) and within 30 hours, those domains were registered to Chesterton Holdings. There's some speculation as to how this is happening but it's clear there is a compromise somewhere. I urge everyone to treat domain search aggregators as (the equivalent of) phishing sites and go directly to a trusted registrar for domain availability checking. The other thing you can do is look up lots of worthless and nonsensical domain names to see if Chesterton registers them.

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