Name.com Caught Hijacking Non-Existent Subdomains

Name.com has been caught hijacking non-existent subdomains in an effort to send the traffic to domain parking pages–where they make money from the clicks.

According to Jonathan, he had gotten frustrated with Godaddy’s practice of displaying their standard parking pages full with ads. So, Jonathan explains that he moved his domain names over to Name.com. But that’s where things get kind of sketchy.

name.com dns subdomain hijacking

Jonathan set up a few domain names on Name.com for a project and queried the DNS using the dig tool.

Jonathan claims that:

If I query a domain name that doesn’t exist, I’m supposed to see a failure. The status above should read NXDOMAIN and I’d get something like when I dig a non-existant domain from Microsoft using dig nodomain.microsoft.com

He goes on to say:

Instead of returning a NXDOMAIN status (non-existant domain), Name.com is returning a valid status and directing the user to the ip address of “174.37.172.70? while still showing the domain name. That IP address displays a “parked domain” , managed by sedo.com and filled with a mix of advertising and search engine marketing, which one of those two parties (sedo.com or name.com) controls.

Name.com is attempting to monetize non-existent subdomains. This is not a new thing. I have written about this being done before, as many local ISPs will show custom 404 error pages that are full of pay per click ads. This is nothing new. In fact, Time Warner and Roadrunner.com were doing this and even Google was caught back in 2009.

And I seem to recall Network Solutions doing the same thing–hijacking unassigned subdomains–back in 2008.

Is this such a bad thing? Perhaps they should notify you somehow that your domain name registrar is going to monetize part of your domain name. But that still doesn’t make it right.

Some on Twitter are calling Name.com a horrible, sleazy, and dishonest company.

name dot com called sleazy dishonest company

It seems as though Name.com is apparently proud that they make money this way, as they detail in their blog post.

I promise we are not trying to be shady, we have been running ad-supported parking pages forever. It is standard practice in the registrar world, and it is spelled out in our TOS. Now that we got the business reasons for this practice out of the way let me explain to you how one can go about removing this “feature”.

Oh really? It’s apparently such a standard practice in the registrar world that everyone already knows about this. But, I remind you, that it may be a standard practice for domains (especially the root subdomain like domain.com and www.domain.com) to have parked pages on them when hosting is not set up on the domain.

However, if someone has set up hosting on the domain, and they’re not using certain subdomains on that domain, then the registrar does NOT need to come along and put parked pages on a domain that’s “live” with content. That’s shady.