back to article Hi-tech cops lose their website

The lapsed website of the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit has been snapped up by an opportunistic German marketeer. Up until recently redirected to the official website of Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). SOCA was created in April 2006 with the merger of the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal …


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  1. Martin
    Black Helicopters

    Follow standard procedure

    I thought it was usual in any domain dispute for the big guy with the money to squash the little guy?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    SOCA (well, a redirect to it) falls, and into the hands of this bottom feeder. Jeez, so many fun things could've been done with that domain.

    Was a bit of satire too much to ask?!

  3. Dave

    Dozy, but compared to the other stuff

    isn't really in the running for HMG BallsUp of the Week Awared (BUWA).

    Some kudos, please, to Herr Matt for the deliciously careful wording (in English) on this page:

  4. Roy Stilling

    Why a .org?

    Why didn't they use a or even a domain? Then if they decided not to maintain the domain it wouldn't end up being re-assigned.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Why do they expect this guy to just give the domain back over? He aquired the domain via the Government's incompetence.

    How hard is it really to put credit card details into their domain provider and tick the box saying automatically renew?

  6. Dom

    Will they be allowed to keep the site name?

    When a private individual buys a web name that has the potential to be sold on to a company, the courts [in the past] have forced the owner to give up that name to the company. Will this be the same in this instance? Or is this rule different depending on who you are?

  7. dervheid

    "Donate the site back to SOCA"?

    You mean SELL, rather than donate, don't you?

    Or is El Reg going all philanthropic on us?

  8. Chris Walker
    Thumb Down

    Utter scum

    You know, this is one element of the internet 'landscape' that really irks me - those utter scumbags who 'legitimately' register expired domains and follow up with a 'yes, we're of course happy to di$cu$$ with the owner of scant seconds ago how the domain should be used'. Sure, you should keep an eye on your registrations but mistakes do happen (people are involved after all).

  9. jimbarter

    hi tech crime my shiny metal....


    best reg story ever, made my year.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    but remember

    as the nhtcu doesnt and hasnt existed for 3 years now, why keep the domain indefinately? if people still use it as a redirect after so long, serves them bloody right for being lazy and not updating their links

    they now have a GOV.UK domain, seems a waste of public money to just keep it for no reason

    annon cos i still work there

    and paris well who wouldnt

  11. Dave

    @ Roy Stilling

    Appallingly, there is no policy for public bodies to use a sub-domain of

    This is, of course how SOCA can now wriggle out of ponying up to Herr Matt and his delicious use of English.

    The administrative backlog (probably not 100% redeemable) is to contact *as many as possible* sites who are still linking to

    and ask them to update the link to show:

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not a crime

    Why is someone who picks up an expired domain automatically a scumbag? It is not the full name of a company or product name, how is anyone supposed to know that it hasn't been let expire purposely?

    And it isn't a case of jumping in before they had a chance to renew either, anyone who lets their domain lapse gets ample warnings and time to renew before it is open for anyone else to buy.

    Typically, people with no knowledge of the system rush to a knee jerk reaction without really knowing what they are talking about. The only story here is the embarrasing incompetence of the high tech crime unit. Not only did they let it lapse but why are they using a .org rather than an official domain in the first place?

  13. William Old
    Thumb Up

    Re: but remember

    This AC has got it spot on... there's no way that a .org is appropriate now, it ranks with (for example), which used to belong to someone who had bought up all the www.[nameofforce] domains for reasons that were associated with a personal crusade.

    Let it lapse, and replace it with something more meaningful. SOCA is not a police force, so it would need to be a domain anyway.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    oh, and by the way

    They had .org coz a cybersquatter already had than pay up..

    It was registered back in the '90's originally so well past it's day, before .gov was even thought of.

  15. RW
    Paris Hilton

    How'd this happen?

    Cause A: [assuming anyone in govt actually cares about the loss of the domain name] These days, the task "renew domain name registrations" is an important one that can't be allowed to fall through the cracks. At the same time, senior managers are generally technological idiots and even if they are aware such a task exists, think it's small enough potatoes to palm off on their secretary, the secretary's dog, a consultant involved in setting up the domain in the first place, or some similarly unsuitable position. Said person (or dog) leaves, dies, is transfigured, or attains a hypostatic union with Christ and suddenly this important task is an orphan.

    Solution for directors of all organizations: pose a single question to your CTO or CIO: "who is responsible for renewing domain registrations?" If they can't answer it on their feet at a meeting, fire them on the spot. A few well-publicized firings for cause and the rest of the universe of CIO's and CTO's will quickly fall into line.

    Cause B: the renewal process itself. Is there no grace period for reclaiming an expired domain name? Seems to me that when a domain expires, after, say, 3 days, an email goes out (and the price goes up €20). After another 10 days, a phone call goes out (and the price goes up another €100). After yet another 10 days, a snailmail letter goes out (and the price goes up yet another €200). And only after three notifications "your domain has expired, better renew it soon, it goes on the public market after 33 days!" and 33 days total grace period does the domain get released. Key thing being that once it expires, it stops working even with warnings going out, but it's reserved for its original owner.

    Would this be so difficult? Just like parking meters that give a 10-minute grace period during which you only get warned, not ticketed.

    Or am I merely demonstrating my total ignorance of how things already happen?

    I wonder if Paris gives grace periods if "renewal" doesn't take place immediately after "expiry"?

  16. Alex

    How far does their mandate go?

    Can they bring in Tech-Twockers, too?

  17. Benedict

    @Chris Walker

    I have no sympathy with people who forget to renew their domain. Its not hard, and often doesn't even take five minutes. In all walks of life if you fuck up you pay dearly (i.e £28 charge for an unexpected overdraft of 50p with the bank). If people can't schedule the time or remember to renew a domain they have no one to blame when someone takes their domain name. (Doesn't DNS usually get cut off for a about month before the domain actually expires anyway?)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Domain registrations

    In my experience ( and I deal with a lot of idiots who let their domains expire), starting approximatly 5 days before registration expiration, the user will be sent an email stating its going to expire. Then repeated emails are sent out for 30 days, after which time the domain "expires" and enters "redemption".

    Redemption generally lasts 30-60 days ( depending on registrar ) during which time the domain will not function, and can only be registered by the original registrar to the original owner (at a higher then normal price).

    After redemption the domain is released for anyone to register.

  19. Scott

    Pay Your Bills, or Pay the Domain Name Holder

    Registration fees are there to keep folks from controlling domain names and not using them. What would it cost to register a domain name if your bank or credit card company set the rates? I dare say more than $10.00. If you don't pay, the name goes back into the available pool.

    Want the name back, then pay for it.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's build a new domain system

    A domain system that is fair, a domain system that is bold, a new domain for a new generation.

    Seriously, if enough people got together say 1,000 they could create their own domain system, the tools are all there, just point to the authority you like.

    You see the domain system doesn't really tranlsate letters to ip addresses, it maps domain names to ip addresses, a subtle, yet important distinction :)

  21. Steven Shuster


    Cyber-squatting laws, which deal with a person or company registering a domain name so that another company has to buy it from them at a premium, actually deal only with trademarked names. If the domain name doesn't contain a trademarked name, it's instead called "domain speculation", and is considered legal.

  22. Huns and Hoses


    A professional outfit should act professionally.

    If I forget to renew the lease on my office I'd expect to be turfed out when it expires. I've no sympathy. A lesson learnt about management, thats all. Move on.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @not a crime

    Then why in the seven hells is a German purchasing a domain like that formerly belonged to a British entity, with no fixed plans no less? Smells like scumbaggery to me... A tenner says spam will soon show up somehow referencing this domain.

  24. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Thumb Up

    Czjd happens. !!!! Chris Walker

    "Cluley suggests its new owners would do well to donate the site back to SOCA. We've relayed this suggestion to and await its response with interest."

    Why would the site be best back in the hands of computer incompetents? Why not donate Clapham Junction to the Secret Services at the same time, save them using it unofficially?

    If you can't trust the people at the cutting edge of national security with a web site...

    for goodness sake!3 !3 !3 !3 !3 !3 !3 !3 !3 !3 !3

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    People who make a few pounds out of stuff like this might be on a level with telecoms salesmen and management consultants --- but its hardly criminal.

    If I could stand the boredom, I might have a go myself. Hey! Want to buy a house? Or a paradigm shift in your business blahblah?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    SOCA, seriously?

    *Serious* Organized Crime Agency

    Is there a Casual Organized Crime Agency (COCA)?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    They're cops, not techies

    These are specialised police officers. Their job is to catch crims and collect evidence that will lead to prosecutions. Their job is not to deal with the mundane bollix involved in the internet. That is the job of some clerical person who, in their case, didn't fulfil that part of her or his job properly.

    The other police, the ones with sticks and helmets, need to sort out the person who is trying to extort money, and I hope they do, with feeling, but really all the abuse being dished out by people in the computer business here is quite unjustified.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    SOCA it to 'em! [geddit!]

    ha! ha! - i love it when someone socks it to the man. good on ye, mr. krauty domain speculator guy

  29. Herby

    Something needed in domain registry

    So these guys let their domain expire. Maybe they wanted the id10t's that link to it to understand that they have done something wrong. Sure they could re-direct it, but the lazy linkers just keep doing it. There is an alternative to having some "cyber-squatter" take over the link! The registry should have a category (you will probably need to pay for this service though) that says "domain is out of service".

    When you don't pay your phone bill there is a lag of quite some time (locally it is usually at least 6 months) before the number is assigned again. It should be the same way with domain names as well. If you want to cyber-squat, you will need to wait 6 months!

    Yes, I know the people who have the domain are stupid. They should have kept up their registration (the information at least!) then they might have gotten an email suggesting that something was about to expire.

  30. Kradorex Xeron


    Why don't more Registries do as CIRA does? Lock the domain for 30 days after expiration so nobody but the original registrant can pay for it. After that 30 days, the domain is then released into the public pool again. During this 30-day period the domain is "offline" as CIRA flicks the nameservers off at the CIRA roots to gain the attention of the registrant.

    Currently, .org, .com, .net, etc have the issue where the very hour the domain expires someone else can run in and scoop it up, And as it stands, these someones are usually squatters.

  31. Steve Roper

    No excuses

    While I don't like bottom-feeding opportunists like this German guy (who says it's only Americans that behave like this? :) ) there's no excuse for any organisation's IT department to allow lapses like this. The sharks are out there waiting to snap up any expiring domain names that have gathered value and it is the IT department's responsibility to keep domain registrations up to date.

    As IT manager of my company, I made it my PERSONAL responsibility to ensure all our domains are re-registered as they come up for renewal. It's a small task, easily missed and forgotten about, but also easily and quickly taken care of, and as such I don't delegate it to anyone else. That way, I know it's being done, and I'll wear the egg if I lose a domain. If more ITOs took responsibility for their jobs, these sharks wouldn't have a market.

    Of course, if one of our clients no longer wants a domain, or we have no further use for one, then we'll renew it anyway and park it for sale ourselves to anyone that wants it. If we built up its value, then we deserve to profit from its sale. If in this case SOCA no longer wanted the domain, they really should have done the same thing. At least then they'd have a) profited from it, and b) retained some degree of control over who it went to on the first sale.

  32. Francis Boyle
    Gates Horns

    re: SOCA, seriously?

    No, but there's LHOCA - the Light hearted Organised Crime Agency - tasked with investigating the recent upswing in the pieing statistics.

    And while I'm at it, how could I fall to mention the Silly Organised Crime Agency - those old ladies attacking people are a serious menace, these days I tell you.

  33. Tom Kelsall

    I don't get it...

    Why should they re-register it when it's (a) a discontinued department name and (b) an inappropriate TLD anyway?

    Has anyone thought that they might have let it lapse DELIBERATELY because it wasn't what they were called any more?! The press might like to have a laugh at them, having received a press release from Klaus Winkelhacker - but really it's entirely possible that this was deliberate and the only stupid people are the ones NOT linking to the CURRENT URL!

  34. Dave

    @AC: Not A Crime

    I think you are confusing unethical behaviour with crime.

    He can be a scumbag without being a criminal, I'm pretty sure the inverse is true too.

    As for whether he is a scum bag, I'm with the 'It's been three years why do people still reference the old site' crowd.

    Perhaps they should have replaced it with a 'Wrong Site, you want to go here..' type message for a year or so before they turned it off?

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