If you own a domain name, make sure its registration doesn’t expire accidentally!

The number of domain names being allowed to expire–intentionally or accidentally–is at an all-time high. Shady companies called “traffic aggregators” have developed software that checks the status of names that are about to expire, and acquires them the moment they’re available. (These are high-tech tools. They’re not checking once a day, they’re checking dozens of times a minute.)

The “traffic aggregators” then redirect that Web traffic to other sites, primarily porn and gambling venues. A Harvard senior located more than 4,500 domain names that all funnel traffic to “Tina’s Free Live Webcam,” a porn site. A large number of those names had previously been owned by legitimate businesses, but were snapped up when the businesses failed to renew their registration in time. “Among them are PeoriaPlayers.com, formerly the Web home of a community theater in Illinois; Cathcamp.org, previously owned by the Michigan-based Catholic Campaign for America; and NewportJaycees.com, which had been the Web address of a Newport Beach, Calif. club for young business people. Also sending visitors to the voyeur site is NAPA-Auto-Parts.com, which earlier had been owned by the Atlanta-based auto parts retailer.”

And that’s only one example of a growing trend, discussed further in this article. There’s a lot of companies buying names and sending them to porn sites, and nobody is quite sure what to do about it.