Attention, New York Times: Renew Your Domain Name. Now

August 28, 2013

By Doug Isenberg

As widely reported, The New York Times website was apparently “hacked” by the Syrian Electronic Army, resulting in widespread outages and warnings within the newspaper to its reporters to avoid sending sensitive e-mail.

The attack appeared to be at one of the highest levels in a website’s food chain — the domain name record itself (in this case, nytimes.com). One large and reputable corporate registrar said that the domain name was “breached and redirected.”

Putting aside the issue of how the attack could have happened, I’m amazed by what I saw when I looked at the domain name record itself, that is, the “whois” database. A day after the hacking — after The New York Times website had recuperated (though not fully) from the attack — I saw that the nytimes.com domain name is due to expire on January 20, 2014. Less than four months from today.

Many large organizations (including Microsoft and the International Olympic Committee) have failed to renew their domains, as I have previously noted. So, why take a risk with any domain name and allow it to get dangerously close to expiration before renewing it?

Registrars typically offer registrations and renewals for up to 10 years, so there’s really no reason to let a domain name linger with less than a year until expiration.

It’s cheap, easy and smart to renew an important domain name — actually, any domain name you want to keep — long before the expiration date approaches. Renewing a domain name today can avoid problems — including legal issues — tomorrow, or a few months from now. That shouldn’t be news to anyone, including The New York Times.

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