Domain Name Theft Is Everyday Event: Short or Memorable Domain Names Can Fetch Millions of Dollars

Like real-world theft, the hijacking of an Internet address can happen quickly and with little warning.New York computer consultant Ronen Inowlocki knows firsthand. In July, a thief connived to take control of the address that Mr. Inowlocki has owned for years. Mr. Inowlocki is still fighting to get it back, and can’t access the “” email addresses he had used to communicate with clients. Meanwhile, the thief shifted the Internet address, also known as a domain, to a service in Germany and lists a mailing address in Iceland as his contact info.Experts say the theft of Internet domain names occurs every day. The thieves — taking advantage of companies that have either let down their guard or failed to take adequate precautions — are often after financial gain, since short or memorable domains can be sold for millions of dollars and generate Web traffic and online-advertising revenue. Some domain hijackers are former employees or others looking to extract payments or take revenge.

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