Yesterday, we received a tip via Twitter that the Africom website (www.afri-com.com) had been compromised and that the website was showing some adult content. We alerted some friends at Africom and went on to check around for more information. The ‘compromised’ website is showing the following:
(we’ve blurred out the not-safe-for-work stuff, which you can see by scrolling down the afri-com.com page and highlighting the text)
Checking around, trying to figure this out, we remembered; the website is not compromised at all. The web address just doesn’t belong to Africom anymore.
See, a little over a week ago, 27 January 2012 to be exact, Africom switched domains. The company sent an SMS to all its subscribers advising them that its new web address is www.afri-com.net and that all staff email addresses have also changed from something like ‘email@example.com’ to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. So we checked the new web address and sure enough it has the Africom website we all know.
If you’re finding this change (especially with the adult content taking over the old domain) strange, you’re not alone. We were shocked. How does an internet company serious about its internet brand drop a domain just like that and leave it to be used for porn adverts?
The one answer we keep getting to, the one thing that makes sense, is that Africom didn’t have a choice. They wanted to but could not keep the domain they used for more than 10 years. If they could, they’d have it redirect to their new web address at least.
The registration records for afri-com.com domain show they were last updated on the 27th of January 2012. The same day, Africom switched domains.
The registration records for the afri-com.net domain show they were last updated on the 27th of January 2012. The same day, Africom switched domains.
It’s not clear to us why Africom let the .com domain go. Did someone just decide it was time to move to a .net. Did someone there forget to renew? Or, did they discover they didn’t own it? We’re trying to find out and will update this story once we get a response.
Whatever the reason, much of Zimbabwe doesn’t know Africom has changed web addresses. The internet’s directory, Google, doesn’t know yet; Googling Africom Zimbabwe still returns results for the old address. Africom itself has made little effort to notify Zimbabwe of the change. The SMS is not enough in these circumstances. They need press statements to make it clear to the market the company has nothing to do with that domain anymore.
Now the really strange thing is that someone at Africom felt it better to switch to .net domain and not just the simpler and expected www.africom.co.zw. The company already owns the .co.zw domain and it already points to their website but for some reason they don’t use it much in their marketing material and choose not to use it for staff email addresses. Why?
Africom is one of the biggest internet providers in Zimbabwe. The company is credited with making mobile broadband (based on CDMA2000 EVDO) available at an affordable price in some cities in Zimbabwe and triggering the drop in prices by competing internet providers in the country. Africom is one of the few providers that have direct international fibre connectivity and the company also has a VSAT teleport hub in Harare.