A reorganisation, a company that changes name… could be a reason not to keep an old domain name any longer. Domain names that are no longer registered become available again and can be purchased by anyone.
It does not mean that every released domain name is bought up by someone with intent to deceive, but it can lead to inappropriate use. For instance, an authentic tweet from the American President Trump surfaced again recently, where the link (likewise authentic) now refers to an Aalst carnival clip which treats Trump with scorn and derision.
People are tracking down old tweets by Trump and are searching specifically for tweets with expired links. When they find such an expired link, they buy the domain name and put on it the content they want to disseminate. In this case, it is completely innocent, but that is not always how things turn out…
Do not forget your e-mail addresses
In the Netherlands, there was a great deal of buzz in mid January when it appeared that ethical hacker Wouter Slotboom had registered a number of expired domain names of the Dutch police and continued to get confidential police reports in his mail box for a year and a half, in particular the security plan for the Christmas market in Dordrecht.
The police no longer used the domain name politiebrabantnoord.nl among others. But people who were accustomed to sending e-mails to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ continued to do so and did not get a message that the e-mail address was no longer used, because it had in the meantime been registered by Slotboom.
Those who use e-mail daily, rely on the function that completes e-mail addresses as soon as you begin to type a name. We seldom pay attention to the e-mail address that the programme itself enters: we just select the first suggestion from our computer. You may thus wind up sending e-mails to old e-mail addresses which are now attributed to someone else, as happened in the case of Slotboom.
It is not entirely illogical that when you change domain name, you lose sight of the e-mail addresses that are linked to that domain name – and thus also of the possibility that someone will, not necessarily with bad intentions, register the domain name and become the owner of the e-mail addresses on that domain. It is therefore important to inform all your contact persons when you change domain name so as to make sure that everyone uses the new e-mail addresses or at least knows that e-mails sent to the old ones will no longer be read by you.
One practical solution is to take offline the domain you no longer use, but continue to pay thefor your account for some years still. In this way, people get an error message when they send you an e-mail, so they realise that they have to update their address book. And you are certain that no one uses or misuses your domain name.