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Africom abandons afri-com.com domain to be used for adult content

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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:

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(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)

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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 ‘tendai@afri-com.com’ to ‘tendai@afri-com.net’. 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.


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26 thoughts on “Africom abandons afri-com.com domain to be used for adult content

  1. This is typical Zim business practices, for some unknown reasons Zim companies just decide implement a we-dont-care-attitude when it comes to their online policies. Its pathetic. You wouldn’t expect this from giants like Africom, Econet…shame!

    1. I totally agree you. There is a huge I-dont-give-a-f@#k-attitude among these big companies and I attribute this to the near-monopoly on services they offer. Check to see how many ZSE companies have silly or outdated websites? Really bottom line is they just dont care and have no idea how badly their reputation suffers when they poorly design websites and effect changes to their online presence.

  2. It is also possible the domain was stolen from them. Believe
    it or not domain theft happens and in many cases a ransom is demanded for you
    to get it back. I know one high profile incident of a domain name registered
    with Godaddy that was stolen because of security issues with Gmail. (From that
    day, I never open any page concurrently with any google product page.)

    Why I think the domain was stolen from them is that the
    domain was expiring on the 15th of December every year, yet the
    expiration date of that domain name is 15 December 2012, this year. You will
    notice that the domain update was done on 27 January 2012, 11 months before
    expiration. For the domain transfer to happen, Africom would have had to agree
    to the transfer first. But then why would it give a porn site its domain name when
    it is using the domain name on its materials and even emails? Why would they
    even change the domain name 11 months before expiry?

    If the domain has been stolen, which is what I suspect, the
    thief is probably using the adult content to put pressure on Africom. Sadly for
    many domain thieves, payment via paypal from Zimbabwe is not possible.

    Africom should simply use the .co.zw domain name which is reserved
    for Zimbabweans only and not the whole world. They are far more protected that
    way.

    You can read about the domain name theft incident here:

    http://www.davidairey.com/google-gmail-security-hijack/

    And how it was eventually restored to its owner here:

    http://www.davidairey.com/david-airey-dot-com-restored/

    1.  There are 3 ways one can lose a domain
      1. Domain expiry
      2. Compromised DNS server
      3. fraudulent Domain name transfer

      None of which is acceptable for an Internet access Provider like Africom. Evidence seems to indicate that it was most likely (3), which means that Africoms registrar is pretty sloppy (or someone at Africom was dumb enough to be tricked to authorise transfer). Either way, doesn’t look good.

  3. Firstly to say that afri-com.com domain is now used for adult content is an overstatement from yourselves and bad publicity to Africom, especially in the internet world were such assumptions are considered and acted upon without thorough investigations by either clients or potential clients. It may not go down well with their sale projections. Secondly the advert on Afri-com.com is not udult content in any sense. FriendFinder is not porn. Tomorrow we may find the same advert on your website since you have little or no control over adverts posted by google on your website. Should we conclude and say you have shifted from being a source of reliable internet news to being an advertising agent for porn sites? I certainly don’t think so.

    On further analysis I discovered the domain was updated on the 12th of jan 2012 yet the registration date was 15-Dec-1999 and hence the renewal date was supposed to be 15-Dec-2011.  Also the Nameservers are not pointing to the same nameservers used by the .net domain their current. A reasonable assumption to this situation could be that africom did not renew their domain on time and the domain was either sold to the highest bidder or  was renewed by Network solutions (registrar). Such top level domains can fetch more than US$5000 on the market depending on the age of the domain and its relevance to internet content.

    Another assumption could be that afri-com simple abandoned the .com domain and opted for the .net domain due to its relevance to their core business activities, .net domains are associated with internet related businesses whilst .com domains are associated with generic businesses, .info with information site, .org, . edu are associated with NGO’s, and non profit making institutions. The list goes on and on.

    On conclusion I think it was rather too harsh to issue such a judgmental  press release without giving the public any hint on what could have transpired.

    1. So why did they wait until 27 January, and send people SMSs of the change over 1 month later? Surely even a simple ad would have been placed long before the domain changes.

    2.  Secondly the advert on Afri-com.com is not udult content in any sense.

      I’m assuming you didn’t go to the site, or that if you did, didn’t scroll down to check the text we blurred in the image.

  4. @Harrison Ford, Air Force 1   .co.zw domain name which is reservedfor Zimbabweans only and not the whole world

    wrong, if you meet all the ZISPA domain registration requirements you can register a .co.zw domain regardless of whether you are a Zimbabwean nationality or company. e.g:

    http://www.google.co.zw
    http://www.gateway.co.zw

    There are some many other examples.

  5. Domain names are a very important element of a company’s brand, especially those based online. To prevent theft, domain parkers etc markmonitor.com offers turnkey management & protection services. They are used by Facebook and other big platforms.

  6. I would say its almost certain it was stolen from them if they forgot to renew it on time, or they did let it lapse intentionally to change domains but the cyber squatter took it and now trying to blackmail them.  A lot of the cheaper US based registrars are quite immoral in the way they steal domains from their customers if they forget to renew by one day. There are also various scams out there to steal domains. Its careless of them indeed but we shouldnt be giving them a hard time here, no malice or distribution of adult content is meant on their part so the headline is a bit unfair.

    1. abandoned in headline is for the fact that an ISP (and IAP) LOST a domain. This would be understandable if they were not an ISP.

      If as an ISP you carelessly lose something that must not lose, you’re responsible for how it affects your image onwards. Africom is responsible for the porn. They effectively let the domain go. And the issue appears not serious enough to them, they just advised their customer via a single SMS that their domain had changed.

      1. No they aren’t responsible for the content on that site now and the people that do this are just opportunist scamsters. I am sure Africom are embarrassed for their mistake but they don’t need to be made accountable for this error.

  7. What a nice way to generate buzz and create traffic to the Africom
    website. I could do it myself, and will do it too. When you land on their site
    you will see how cheap their broadband is.

    However, the fact that the afri-com.com domain name is owned
    by someone in Czechoslovakia clearly shows poor intellectual property
    management by Africom.

  8. I’m guessing the admin contact changed (staff turnover) and they didn’t change the details with the registrar, so when they got notifications to renew … they didn’t.

    Shame, shame.

  9. it is a shame the domain had to be changed, and now has unsuitable content on it, but its no longer the property of Africom…and since their SMS, the domain no longer has any connection to the ISP. 

    move on people.. nothing more to see here. seriously!

  10.  this is my own opinion. techzim is full of nonsense. you guys dont now
    what your doing. you are no different from herald or dailynews. you are
    always reporting negetive stuff about tech companies, and how things
    should work. your do not have no love for this countries tech companies.
    f you really have faith in this countries tech companies, y is your
    website hosted outside Zim. you guys are full of bull crap…. this
    website is all about negativity….. a real techy wouldn’t tolerate this
    nonsense. we want tech news, not some silly blogging.. be real

    1. obviously someone having a bad day….and decides to unload his garbage on people who are really doing a great job of keeping us informed. You wonder what he was doing on Techzim if its as bad as he puts it!!! #RealITLoser

  11. Can you imagine if you were transacting with the Africom site? Can you only imagine!

  12. This is what I would have done:-

    – renew the domain
    – put a press release to say good news – they have moved to a .net domain which is more appropriate
    – put a statement to say that the domain will be owned for another 6 months (or two years – why not it costs US$20 a year anyway) until all of the admin side of new website is sorted and then it will be sold or discontinued and the company will no longer be associated with it
    – put a contact number of someone to contact in the event of any queries
    – put an advert for products and services

    The fact that the above did not happen is unexpected and worthy of responsible comment. Responsible comment increases awareness and this awareness can be absorbed by those companies that need it.

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