Sunday 30 January 2011

Example.com has changed!

Nearly everyone involved in security testing or website design has undoubtedly used the domains example.com and example.net to demonstrate something or other. These are special domain names, reserved for private testing, so nobody is allowed to register them.

For as long as I can remember, the domains have been configured to point to a web server. For several years, they returned the following rather minimalist content:

You have reached this web page by typing "example.com", "example.net","example.org" or "example.edu" into your web browser.

These domain names are reserved for use in documentation and are not available for registration. See RFC 2606, Section 3.

But now it's changed! The example domains now issue a 302 redirect to a page on a different domain: http://www.iana.org/domains/example/

Try it out: http://example.com

I don't like this. I'm all in favour of making things look a bit prettier, but for some reason it seems wrong to redirect users to a completely different domain name.

I wonder if any test code will be broken by this change?

52 comments:

  1. Any "test code" that relies on any host actually existing at, or there even being DNS records for, example.* is broken already. So no.

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  2. Just because you shouldn't do that doesn't mean some people won't have. So "no" probably isn't true.

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  3. Idiots shouldn't be protected from the consequences of their actions. If something breaks, it's their fault.

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  4. http://web.archive.org/web/*sa_/http://example.com shows that the site content has actually changed a couple of times...

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  5. It's been practically the same for 9 years.

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  6. note the term "Documentation purposes" i.e. use it in a book, not for security testing. If for security testing you have to rely on a particular domain acting in a particular way, register it yourself.

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  7. I agree to some extent. A key part of security testing is documenting what you have discovered, and that is where it is appropriate to use example domains.

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  8. Maybe they got a really good offer for example.com and this is part of clearing the way? Woulldn't surprise me.

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  9. Well they all are unavailable right now giving error unable to load page Firefox 4b10

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  10. This is a bad example that should not be followed...

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  11. A test of the VoiceXML 2.1 test harness is broken (see the default configuration).

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