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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 20:22, 9 August 2012


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Theft Quadrants
TinyURL was the most popular link shortener for long enough that it made it into a lot of printed publications. I wonder what year the domain will finally lapse and get picked up by a porn site.
Title text: TinyURL was the most popular link shortener for long enough that it made it into a lot of printed publications. I wonder what year the domain will finally lapse and get picked up by a porn site.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: How difficult would it be to steal TinyURL, really? Is it a real problem?

This is a "Eisenhower box" comparing how difficult it is to steal a specified thing with the severity of the theft.

It is very hard to steal nuclear launch codes. They are protected by many layers of federal security. That's a good thing, too, since if they were stolen, they could be used to start a nuclear war which would be bad[citation needed].

It is also hard to steal the Crown Jewels, since they are protected by a complex security system. But if they were stolen, it wouldn't be so bad for most people.

It wouldn't be too hard to steal the a Wienermobile (a car shaped like a hot-dog, advertising the Oscar Mayer brand). There have been made several versions of this car, and it would not be more difficult to steal than any other car, although harder to hide though. Randall seems to considers that such a stolen vehicles would not be too bad, although he has previously refereed to a stolen Wienermobile in 935: Missed Connections, which is driven recklessly almost hitting someone. But it is not bad enough to consider it a big problem in a context where it is compared with stolen nuclear codes.

It also wouldn't be hard (or at least, not as hard as stealing nuclear launch codes or the Crown Jewels) to steal the tinyurl.com domain name, but the consequences of that could be significant and is thus listed under very bad. The joke if of course that this is listed as just as bad as the risk of a nuclear war, and of course it is not as significant, but it could swiftly result in damage to a lot of important computers, and ruin references in journals etc.

TinyURL offers a URL shortening service. They provide short URLs that redirect to long ones. This is useful if you want to write down a very long URL as it saves typing and is more accurate. Other companies, including bit.ly,Google and Twitter offer a similar service. TinyURL was, for a while, the most popular of these URL shortening services. If their domain name were stolen, all the redirects from short URLs could be changed to forward traffic to sites hosting, for example, malware. This would have significant effects on a large number of people, because TinyURL is used in many places both online and (as the title text notes) even sometimes offline.

Domain hijacking is relatively common [citation needed]. If a cracker can obtain personal information about the domain owner, they can impersonate them to the domain registrar, and obtain control of the domain, and with that control defraud a large number of people.

A whois search as of June 2016 finds that the tinyurl.com domain is next due for renewal in June 2018. However, rule changes made by ICANN (the organization in charge of domain name registrations) now make it effectively impossible to steal a domain name because the owner allowed its registration to lapse. Current rules for .com registrations now allow for the original owner to renew their domain name after it expires during a 0-45 day auto-renew grace period. The exact length of this grace period depends on what company the domain is registered with. All registrars are then required to give a 30 day redemption grace period during which the domain may be renewed with penalty. As a result, tinyurl.com would have a 30-75 day period after expiration during which the domain is not available for registration by a third party. ICANN rules state that DNS resolution must be stopped during the redemption grace period, which means that there will be a 30 day period during which tinyurl.com will no longer work but the company will have the ability to quickly restore ownership of their domain. It is very unlikely that any company that is still in business would not notice that their domain name has expired before the end of the 30 day redemption grace period.

Transcript

[A chart with an Eisenhower box, consisting of four labeled squares. To the left the rows are labeled and two lines goes to from these labels to a description of what the labels refer to. Below is a similar labeling of the columns also with two lines going from these labels to the description.]

How hard
thing would
be to steal

Hard

The Crown
Jewels

The nuclear
launch codes

Easy

The Oscar Mayer
Wienermobile

The tinyurl.com
domain name

Not that bad

Very bad

How bad it would be
if someone stole it


Discussion

Talk:1698

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