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Sony Forgets To Pay For Domain, Hilarity Ensues

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the turning-the-lights-back-on dept.

Sony 277

First time accepted submitter Dragoness Eclectic writes Early Tuesday, gamers woke up to find out that they couldn't log in to any Sony Online Entertainment games--no Everquest, no Planetside 2, none of them. Oddly, the forums where company reps might have posted some explanation weren't reachable, either. A bit of journalistic investigation by EQ2Wire came across the explanation: SOE forgot to renew the domain registration on SonyOnline.net, the hidden domain that holds all their nameservers. After 7 weeks of non-payment post-expiration, NetworkSolutions reclaimed the domain, sending all access to Sony's games into an internet black hole. Sony has since paid up. SOE's president, John Smedley, has admitted that the expiration notices were being sent to an "unread email" address.

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oops (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471515)

LOL

Re:oops (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471763)

I want more DRM. It is so nice to see the things I paid for just stop working like that. DRM FTW!!!

Black hole? (4, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | about two weeks ago | (#47471525)

Hole in someone's head, maybe - after all, a simple spreadsheet to track something this basic or a reminder in a calendar with alerts with someone assigned to keep an eye on things would take care of things like this. They're lucky it wasn't held hostage...

Re:Black hole? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471555)

You want to assign someone to keep an eye on things that can be fully automated? Is your hair pointy?

Re:Black hole? (3, Interesting)

Nevo (690791) | about two weeks ago | (#47472237)

Yes, somebody should absolutely be assigned responsibility to keep up with things like this. Because when no one's assigned the responsibility, well, then you get things like domains expiring.

Re:Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472259)

Have you HEARD of automatic bill-pay??

Re:Black hole? (4, Insightful)

Titus Groan (2834723) | about two weeks ago | (#47472375)

have you heard of automated systems breaking? this is why someone should be assigned and responsible for it.

Re:Black hole? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472335)

He's a job creator. How many jobs have you created?

Re:Black hole? (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about two weeks ago | (#47471565)

Same thing happened to Turbine a couple years back: DDO, LotR, etc all down for exactly the same reason. You wouldn't think this would be that hard to get right, but chances are no one in dev at either company survived from the early days to when the problem happened, so the tribal knowledge was lost.

Re:Black hole? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about two weeks ago | (#47472329)

Domains and SSL certificates. It seems nobody can handle these things expiring until OMG IT'S HAPPENING TOMORROW!!!

Black hole? (5, Insightful)

Bovius (1243040) | about two weeks ago | (#47471577)

This sort of lapse has happened in every company I've worked in, big and small, when the person formerly responsible for this kind of thing leaves the company and someone else has to pick up their responsibilities. Sloppy, unorganized? You betcha. Also what I've come to expect.

Re:Black hole? (3, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | about two weeks ago | (#47471951)

This is apparently my president's nightmare because he will call me at midnight and ask me when our domains and SSL certs expire.

Re:Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471967)

This is apparently my president's nightmare because he will call me at midnight and ask me when our domains and SSL certs expire.

How many employees at your company? I'm guessing 25.

Also human (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about two weeks ago | (#47472179)

Anyone on Slashdot who gets smugly superior about this and how "stupid companies are" is just being a hypocrite. We have ALL forgotten things in our lives. We've all forgotten an event we were supposed to be at, a bill we were supposed to pay, something we were supposed to bring with us. It happens.

What's more, everyone has been in a situation where something didn't happen because they, and everyone else, assumed someone else was going to deal with it. You don't go and check on everything that ever happens around you or involving you, you mentally categorize things you are and are not responsible for and ignore the latter.

So ya, companies, which are made up of people, can fuck up too. It's amusing, but perfectly normal.

Re:Black hole? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about two weeks ago | (#47471635)

the problem is you fire someone and those alerts and reminders and tracking spreadsheets are lost in the change over.

Re:Black hole? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471795)

When I fire someone, I redirect their email to their supervisor. It's right there in their employment contracts that their work email address and any correspondence are the property of the company (as if that wasn't obvious, but CYA applies). For things like this we have title addresses like dnsadmin@example.com, noc@example.com etc. which are broadcast to several staff responsible for the management of such affairs.

Also payments such as these are lodged in our recurring expenses ledger and paid by accounts payable. You can't incur recurring expenses here without making a ledger entry as the account would not get paid thus the domain name would never have been registered. I guess if you were a total dick you could try and sneak a recurring expense invoice past AP as an NRE, though I kind of hope our AP people are clueful enough to catch shenanigans of that sort.

Re:Black hole? (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about two weeks ago | (#47471649)

" simple spreadsheet to track something"
that is the bane of corporations. Important info sitting in a spreadsheet, somewhere.

Re:Black hole? (4, Funny)

raftpeople (844215) | about two weeks ago | (#47471939)

Good point, I better print the email reminder and place that in the three ring binder that sits behind my desk.

Or, as seen in this comic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472013)

I think this comic is incredibly apropos:

http://www.wastedtalent.ca/nod... [wastedtalent.ca]

Re:Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47471677)

They're lucky it wasn't held hostage...

Lucky, indeed! Next expires 26-may-2020. Lets see how that works for them next time around.

I'm pretty sure also they're required by law to put ACCURATE contact info into the registry...

Re: Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471779)

There is no law. Stop saying things to sound smart.

Re: Black hole? (0)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47471873)

There is no law. Stop saying things to sound smart.

REFUTED [icann.org]
Stop contradicting things I say just to try to astro-turf over your own misbehavior.

Re: Black hole? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471905)

That's a law?

Re: Black hole? (0)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47471979)

https://www.govtrack.us/congre... [govtrack.us]

no that was icann's policy. here's the law. you want me to do any of your other homework for you?

Re: Black hole? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472117)

I suggest you learn how to fucking read, you fucking cockbag. This applies directly to domain squatters, not legit domain owners. Fuck off and quit being a retarded douche. By that I mean fucking kill yourself in front of your family so they cry.

Re: Black hole? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472355)

Somebody's parents didn't hug him

Re: Black hole? (3, Informative)

pla (258480) | about two weeks ago | (#47472123)

here's the law. you want me to do any of your other homework for you?

Not the GP, but yeah, I do - Can you explain what an anti-domainsquatting law that specifically deals with trademarks and identity theft, and absolutely nothing to do with simply giving fake info to a registrar, has to do with your original claim that giving ACCURATE contact info counts as US law?

Now, ICANN can enforce its policies on the registrars themselves, simply by virtue of the fact that a registrar requires ICANN's continued blessing to operate. But the only recourse they have about (non-identity-stealing) fake registration info comes down to taking the domain away from you. For someone like Sony, that might look like an end-of-the-world scenario. For someone who just wants a named place to stick stuff online for my own personal use? Meh, worst case, I've lost $10-$15 and I have to wait three days for a new domain to propagate (and not always even out the money - Much to my surprise, I actually had GoDaddy refund me when I flatly refused to send them a photocopy of my license, three months into a registration).

Re: Black hole? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about two weeks ago | (#47471927)

So you've also demonstrated you don't know what a law is.

Re: Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47471971)

come on don't be egomaniacal or lazy. you can google this yourself. its a law. https://www.govtrack.us/congre... [govtrack.us]

Re:Black hole? (1)

nobuddy (952985) | about two weeks ago | (#47471807)

1) Uh. No, there is no such law.
2) If there was such a law, it would not require the email address listed to be read by a human being.

Re:Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47471881)

1) Uh. No, there is no such law.
2) If there was such a law, it would not require the email address listed to be read by a human being.

REFUTED [icann.org] on both counts.

Re: Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471983)

That's not a law, it's a customer service agreement.
The account has to be read long enough for initial verification. After that unless the registrar is seeing bounced mails it can sit unattended til doomsday.

Re: Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47472003)

https://www.govtrack.us/congre... [govtrack.us]

while you're right that was a customer service agreement, a simple internet search will show you a ton of references to the text of the actual law.

Re: Black hole? (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about two weeks ago | (#47472113)

Originally I haven't planned on entering this but when I clicked the link I got this.

This bill was introduced on May 12, 2004, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted.The text of the bill below is as of Jun 09, 2004 (Reported by House Committee).

To be clear this means president Bush never signed it into law. It also means, that as it isn't a law the other person is right unless you can find one that was. As for SonyOnline.net the best thing would be a redirect to Piratebay.se

Re:Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472015)

Hey, moron. ICANN doesn't pass laws. Get your head out of your ass.

Re:Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47472037)

google the "Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act", moron.

Re:Black hole? (4, Informative)

theskipper (461997) | about two weeks ago | (#47471909)

There's no law per se, but there is a recent ICANN requirement called "Whois Accuracy Data Specification". It requires registrars to contact the registrant and click an emailed link as validation that their whois info is correct. The domain can be suspended if the validation isn't done within 15 days.

The intent is good but the implementation is pretty mindboggling. They're expecting every owner of a domain name to check that the email sent to them is not a phishing attempt...how that's supposed to work reliably is anyone's guess.

So, yeah, owners are supposed to verify to the registrars that the info is accurate which you could say is "ICANN's law". But not legally. Here's one of many articles that goes deeper into the issue:

http://blog.easydns.org/2014/0... [easydns.org]

Re:Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47472021)

There actually IS a law, its called the "Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act" and its an ammendment to some other law I forget the name of but I'm sure is as easy to google.

Federal crime, 7 years in jail yo.

Re:Black hole? (1)

theskipper (461997) | about two weeks ago | (#47472119)

It looks like that is specifically tied to using false whois info if there is a subsequent copyright or trademark infringement, not if Joe Average decides to put 123 Main St. as his contact address. Seems like the law is a tool that can be used to help prosecution of Lanham violations (there probably aren't many criminals who keep their whois info up to date ;)

Here's the text copied from wikia:

http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Fr... [wikia.com]

"Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act, Tit. II of the Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-482, 118 Stat. 3912, 3916 (Dec. 23, 2004).
Overview Edit

This Act increases criminal penalties for those who submit false contact information when registering a domain name that is subsequently used to commit a crime or engage in copyright or trademark infringement."

If it's broader than that then please correct me (IANAL).

Re:Black hole? (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about two weeks ago | (#47472139)

No, there isn't. There is a dead and now archived House resolution.

This bill was introduced on May 12, 2004, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jun 09, 2004 (Reported by House Committee).

It was never signed into law as it never made it out of committee. That link you so nicely offer up also offres this:

H.R. 3754 (108th): Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act Introduced: Feb 03, 2004 (108th Congress, 2003–2004) Status: Died (Reported by Committee) in a previous session of Congress

How about this one. Its currently alive. S. 2588: Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 [govtrack.us]

Re:Black hole? (3, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about two weeks ago | (#47472407)

I'm afraid that the current "whois" practices were deliberately set up to allow plausibility deniability, to protect the domain owners from being actually reached by the spammers and numerous sales people or lawyers with cause to contact domain owners. The domain vendors benefit from this: they can follow the letter of the law, but not actually support contacting the domain owners to handle criminal or abuse behavior, and wait for days, weeks, or years while lawyers collect the evidence and chain of repeated contact failures before a court order can be obtained.

In the meantime, they're collecting the registration fees, in bulk, for the relevant domain and all the related domain names. The current system is a critical revenue stream, which the domain and SSL key vendors have no need or desire to encumber by enforcing legitimate contact information.

Re:Black hole? (1)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about two weeks ago | (#47471767)

Also, for $1000 they could have simply registered the name for one hundred years.

Re:Black hole? (3, Informative)

LordKronos (470910) | about two weeks ago | (#47472019)

Actually, 10 years is the max registration. And that's exactly what I do. Throwaway domains that I'm experimenting with might only get a year or 2, but once anything becomes important to my business, it gets renewed for 10 years. The same is true for my personal domain. And every couple years I go through and bump it back up to the max. I'd literally have to go 10 years without remembering to renew a domain before one would expire. I can't see why any business would do otherwise.

Re:Black hole? (2)

rhodium_mir (2876919) | about two weeks ago | (#47472313)

Network Solutions offers kinda-sorta-100 year registration. Technically it's just a ten year registration that they automatically renew for you every ten years, but it still would've saved Sony a lot of trouble in this case.

Network Solutions price chart [networksolutions.com]

20 and 100 Year Domain Registration Service - If the domain name registry of a particular third level domain does not provide for an initial registration term of 20 or 100 years, then Network Solutions will register your domain name on your behalf for the maximum term available at the respective registry, and as long as your domain name is registered with us, we will continue to add additional years to your registration on an annual basis up to the total of 20 or 100 years, depending upon the term you select from the date of purchase.

Re:Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471787)

The data stores associated with a system should be modeled with as much care as the system components themselves. DNS registration failure is likely a failure of not including the NetworkSolutions provided data store as part of the system design, but instead thought as a clerical duty of an unspecified person in an unspecified location.

Re:Black hole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472023)

Such a thing is so ridiculous. For a company a domain name is so crucial that I can't even begin to think of how this could happen. Forget about reminders, heck you can pay hundreds of years in advance without it making ANY dent in a companies bottomline. And I'm not kidding at all. At current prices 100 years would be ~$1000. Invest $1k, no domain worries for the coming decades.

Re:Black hole? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about two weeks ago | (#47472087)

Well, its really no more ridiculous than storing authentication on the client-side [slashdot.org] . You'd be shocked how often this basic foolishness flies with very large companies.

Re:Black hole? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about two weeks ago | (#47472261)

IIRC 10 years is the max on com/net/org

How it could happen is pretty simple, someone is working on a new service, they are in a hurry and just buy the domain with a company credit card or a small one time PO or whatever putting their individual work email address as the contact info. They register it for a few years, maybe even the maximum of 10. Maybe they set a reminder for themselves to renew it, maybe they don't bother as they think it unlikely the domain will stay in use that long.

The project grows in importance but noone notices that the domain behind it is associated with one employee, then that employee becomes an ex-employee and their email is shut down

ring ring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471537)

Is it that hard to pick up a phone?

Re:ring ring (4, Insightful)

Zaelath (2588189) | about two weeks ago | (#47471541)

I immediately thought this too, but you try ringing one of these corporations and see how far you get.

Sony Computer Entertainment is full of morons (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471573)

I programmed videogames for 17 years, worked on all of the Sony consoles except the PS4.
They're dumber then a bag of hammers over there. I'm glad I'm out.

Re:ring ring (3, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about two weeks ago | (#47471599)

you try ringing one of these corporations and see how far you get.

Exactly. Unless you know someone or have some inside connections, it is virtually impossible to contact someone, who actually knows something, using publicly available information. And I'm sure that NetworkSolutions really doesn't want to spend time calling everyone who lets their registration lapse.

The real problem is that Sony couldn't be arsed to register the domain names using a working e-mail address that actually goes to the person at Sony who is responsible for such a thing.

Re:ring ring (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | about two weeks ago | (#47471647)

]The real problem is that Sony couldn't be arsed to register the domain names using a working e-mail address that actually goes to the person at Sony who is responsible for such a thing.

Not quite, it should be a special purpose email like domain_registration@sony.com rather than an employee email. However the special purpose email should forward to those responsible, involved or overseeing the particular thing. The special purpose email should not be something that someone is supposed to log in to.

Re:ring ring (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472085)

According to this article: [itworld.com]

On Twitter, however, SOE President John Smedley suggested that the company had failed to pay its website bills.

"The payment notifications went to a junk email box," Smedley tweeted, adding, "Someone left and it got caught in the replacements junk filter. Simple as that. Embarrassing as that. No point dodging."

"DNS problems could take up to 48 hours to resolve," he wrote, adding, "We are really really sorry on this one folks. Embarrassing and preventable. We screwed up."

7 weeks? (5, Insightful)

MrLogic17 (233498) | about two weeks ago | (#47471557)

Wow, giving the company 7 weeks before Network Solutions took the site down? That's going way above & beyond. The average luser like me would be taken down the day of expiration.
 

Re:7 weeks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471623)

I get months of warning from GoDaddy *prior* to expiration. Don't know what they do after, though.

Re:7 weeks? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471653)

It's a 10 day grace period, then another 10 days until it is disabled.

Re:7 weeks? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about two weeks ago | (#47471643)

I've gone weeks. For the same reason Sony did, oddly enough.

Re:7 weeks? (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about two weeks ago | (#47471693)

That's the problem with too much leeway.

The procrastinator in us invariably assumes there is seemingly an infinite amount of time to take care of this... by the time they send the We really fucking mean it this time! notice, well hell, they've been crying "wolf" so long it doesn't mean anything.

And to be fair, didn't the nerdtastic Mecca website herself forget to renew a certificate recently?

Re:7 weeks? (1)

ghn (2469034) | about two weeks ago | (#47472285)

Managing hundreds of domains here, from various registrars. Expiration date is expiration date with all of them, it just stops working at midnight. Period.

The only intriguing thing about this article to me is how they got that special treatment of 7 weeks leeway..

Sony playing catchup with Microsoft (0)

basscomm (122302) | about two weeks ago | (#47471569)

Looks like Sony's playing catchup with Microsoft [slashdot.org] . Honestly, this is one of the lamest blows in the so-called 'console war' to date.

Re:Sony playing catchup with Microsoft (2)

bad_fx (493443) | about two weeks ago | (#47471663)

How on earth do you figure this is a "blow" in the console war? Are you suggest that Microsoft was somehow behind this? Or is everything that gets reported on and is related to Playstation\Xbox now some sort of insidious plot to discredit one or the other console?

In reality it sounds like pure incompetence at Sony (and the same in the story you link about Microsoft) and I think when many people are affected by this sort of thing it's fair enough that it's covered on tech sites. It doesn't have to be part of some 'console war' that you parenthesize with apparent disdain while at the same time perpetuating the idea.

Re:Sony playing catchup with Microsoft (1)

basscomm (122302) | about two weeks ago | (#47471857)

How on earth do you figure this is a "blow" in the console war? Are you suggest that Microsoft was somehow behind this? Or is everything that gets reported on and is related to Playstation\Xbox now some sort of insidious plot to discredit one or the other console?

In reality it sounds like pure incompetence at Sony (and the same in the story you link about Microsoft) and I think when many people are affected by this sort of thing it's fair enough that it's covered on tech sites. It doesn't have to be part of some 'console war' that you parenthesize with apparent disdain while at the same time perpetuating the idea.

Or, it could have been that I was making a terrible joke.

Re:Sony playing catchup with Microsoft (1)

careysub (976506) | about two weeks ago | (#47471671)

Remember, Microsoft did not learn from their 1999 fiasco, they did it again 4 years later [out-law.com] , though only in the UK.

LOL timing is everything (1)

hurfy (735314) | about two weeks ago | (#47471571)

I went to a training session for our new $50k accounting system. They had forgotten to renew their own license for the training classroom. Took an extra hour to get their tech in there to get it fixed. Yup, should have got up and went home at that point.

sigh

We bought it cause it was industry specific (well focused at least) and by a small company that only did this for 20 years. Next year they are bought by a national company and instead of being 1 of 200 customers now we were 1 of 20000 on a minor product. Not exactly the same experience :/ Naturally, followed a couple years later by a purchase from a multinational software company :(

Special email addresses ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about two weeks ago | (#47471621)

This is why you don't directly use employee email addresses for certain business activities. These activities get their own emails which forward to whoever the responsible person or persons are. Ex. domain_registration@sony.com. Note "forward to", these would not be standalone email addresses that someone has to log in to.

Re:Special email addresses ... (1)

msauve (701917) | about two weeks ago | (#47471683)

So, forward domain_registration@sony.com to former_employee@sony.com. Let us know how that works out for you.

Re:Special email addresses ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about two weeks ago | (#47471721)

So, forward domain_registration@sony.com to former_employee@sony.com. Let us know how that works out for you.

That's why I wrote person or persons. Plus when someone is told they are now responsible for or involved in domain registration they go update the recipient list for the email address. There is no need to update some outsider's records. There is no need to get into the former employee's email. It really is an improvement over using employee emails directly.

Re:Special email addresses ... (0)

msauve (701917) | about two weeks ago | (#47471835)

Whoosh. That only make it easier. It doesn't fix the process, which still requires tracking and making changes to make it effective.

Re:Special email addresses ... (1)

nobuddy (952985) | about two weeks ago | (#47471817)

Group mailboxes are a thing, and very useful for such as this.

Re:Special email addresses ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471869)

Domain registration isn't exactly a full time job at most companies. It's a minor side-task that gets tossed to some guy, who does it for a few years, then quits/dies/whatever, and nobody updates the distribution list since they long forgot about that task. Until something like this happens.

Re:Special email addresses ... (2)

msauve (701917) | about two weeks ago | (#47471885)

It still requires tracking and making changes. It's easier to change the local email system than a registrar's database, but in either case, updates must be made to be effective. With 10 year registrations available, there's no guarantee that former_group_members@example.com is much better than former_employee@example.com, especially in fast moving industries. If company X acquires company Y, dns@y.com is apt to be forgotten, too.

You're suggesting a tactical solution to a process issue. Better to have the responsible group track and update necessary renewals on a regular basis, instead of depending on notifications from external parties being received.

Re:Special email addresses ... (1)

Solandri (704621) | about two weeks ago | (#47471845)

So, forward domain_registration@sony.com to former_employee@sony.com. Let us know how that works out for you.

It works a lot better because if domain registration emails are being sent directly to former_employee@sony.com, then only he knows that domain registrations are being sent to him. There is no record at Sony saying that he was the one getting those emails.

If you instead have it sent to domain_registration@sony.com with a forwarder, when former_employee is fired, the sysadmin can look at the entire list of forwarded addresses, grep for every instance of former_employee, and re-forward them to other employees.

See the difference? With your method, only the former employee knows what emails he was getting that need to be redirected. And if he was fired, he certainly isn't going to cooperate at providing a list. With forwarded email addresses, Sony has a list of all important emails which were going to the former employee.

All this is kinda moot though. In this case with a company the size of Sony, they should've just paid the $1000 or so to register the domain for the next 100 years.

Re:Special email addresses ... (1)

msauve (701917) | about two weeks ago | (#47472067)

So, your plan is that former_sysadmin@sony.com makes the change. OK, but how is keeping track of what emails need redirection when an employee arbitrarily changes more reliable than keeping track of when registrations expire, which is known well in advance? Is it somehow easier to remember to grep email accounts for "dns@example.com" than to query a database for "domain_expiration<90days?"

See the difference? One places responsibility for a mission critical function on an external party, and the other doesn't, it fixes the process.

Why not just have responsible_group keep track of registrations on a regular basis, and renew them when necessary. You do know that registrars aren't required to email anyone about pending expirations (most/all do, though), so nothing you can do with emails will really fix the process? Really, if a company can't take responsibility for tracking and renewing their registrations, they deserve to lose them. If you can't keep track of expiration dates, you've likely lost the security info required to renew, too.

Not the first time! (2)

rstanley (758673) | about two weeks ago | (#47471633)

I long for the good ole days when they actually send out paper invoices in envelopes! ;^)

And from the archives:

"In December 1999, Microsoft forgot to renew the domain name Passport.com,
and so rendered its Hotmail service partially crippled. A Linux
programmer, Michael Chaney, paid the $35 fee and promptly handed over
ownership to Microsoft."

It happened again in 2003:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2... [theregister.co.uk]

Will they ever learn? ;^)

Re:Not the first time! (2)

zephvark (1812804) | about two weeks ago | (#47471797)

I long for the good ole days when they actually send out paper invoices in envelopes! ;^)

You actually still look at your paper mail? I tend to assume it's all just spam. Then again, I tend to assume that of my email, too. What was the last year we had a communications system that had more signal than noise? It seems to have been a while.

Re:Not the first time! (1)

gangien (151940) | about two weeks ago | (#47471801)

A guy who posted on /. renewed one of the MS domains. Or atleast, that's what I recall.

and your suprised why?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471669)

I used to work @ sony playstation. Yes I spelled it right. they dont deserve the capitalization as it would show some form of respect..
moving past that,
sony is a bunch of teenagers with money..
what would happen if someone had trolled this action and somehow managed to pick it up before sony pulled their heads out.
Moving forward, this should be an indicator of how much sony staff and its associates care about you. They care about the money, in this instance it wsa not the public out cry, but more an alert that sony was not making any money off their "cool" portal thingy, once it was discovered, validated and assessed for impact, then action was made.

Whats an even bigger shame, if you dont wear a suit they wont pay you enough to live any where reasonably close to the office..
bt i could go on, but wont..
peace be with you all,

Re:and your suprised why?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471791)

I too used to work @ SCEA. I too would have to agree with your assessment. I too am also not suprised @ this blunderfu*k. Stuff like this allways happens up there..
Too focused on making the money, and not the individual..

An "unread email address"?? (3, Insightful)

Rone (46994) | about two weeks ago | (#47471737)

If the address was unread now, it must have been monitored originally.

What are the chances that the original recipients were RIFed at some point to goose the quarterly numbers?

Re:An "unread email address"?? (1)

pla (258480) | about two weeks ago | (#47472073)

If the address was unread now, it must have been monitored originally.

Not necessarily - I have a domain. It has a "real" administrative contact email (a throwaway GMail account). I haven't checked it since I had to confirm it as valid (the registration just autorenews - Pssst, SCEA, you live off subscription models, ever thought of using the same damned idea to keep your domains/certs/etc active?).

Administrative contacts for a domain amount to nothing more than a pre-confirmed spam address. Why the hell would anyone use an address where they actually have to suffer through reading the crap that comes in?

I was really worried (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about two weeks ago | (#47471771)

And then I realized I never use PSN, but just play games I have discs for on my PS4.

Second Son rocks. It's like Seattle, but more.

What GTA should have done for GTA: Emerald City but they were too chicken to mess with the best!

Sony Doesn't Use Databases to Track Filings? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about two weeks ago | (#47471815)

Well, dinosaurs did die out.

"Hilarity Ensues" (4, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about two weeks ago | (#47471849)

Hilarity Ensues

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Now, if some domain squatter had taken over the name the moment the domain expired, that would be funny. Giving them 7 weeks is just ... well, sad.

This type of proplem (1)

Adam (3469959) | about two weeks ago | (#47471911)

Isn't a people problem, or a company problem, or a technical problem. Like the majority of company fuckups it a procedural problem. There is no documented procedures for anyone to follow, and it's a SPOF in a service.

Re:This type of proplem (1)

ledow (319597) | about two weeks ago | (#47472101)

So, whose responsible for not documenting it?

Somewhere in Sony, some IT guy KNOWS what would happen if that domain went offline. He knows that it shouldn't be allowed to happen. The beancounters know that it costs to much for the consequences, so they'd have to authorise it whatever.

Thus, someone, somewhere KNOWS this critical business element is a possible point of failure but NOBODY bothers to create that documented procedure.

It's not like the process is opaque, or that nobody could have predicted it... enough people inside Sony should know that there should be a procedure, and thus someone, somewhere is responsible for making sure that procedure is scheduled, documented, well-known and that it "belongs" to someone.

It's a company problem, because none of that happened. And it didn't happen because of a people problem. The technical problem? You're telling me that NOT ONE SYSTEM inside Sony was set up to check that the domain doesn't expire, to fallover to a second domain in the case of problems, to check that email account that was mysteriously unchecked for several weeks despite being the WHOIS contact, etc.?

It's not "none of the above". It's "all of the above".

Stop blaming some mystical, magical entity when - actually - some guy in Sony fucked up and the people above him weren't doing their job to check he hadn't fucked up and/or hadn't taken account of what to do if he had fucked up.

Re:This type of proplem (1)

Eristone (146133) | about two weeks ago | (#47472393)

The thing you aren't taking into account is things like reorgs and reductions in force. You have the process and procedure - and a distribution list is set up for domain-renewal@mycompany.com which has as members the manager Jane and the senior sysadmins John, Jill and Juan. Jane gets promoted and the group gets put under a different manager - Scott from Business Systems. Scott says "why am I getting all this junk from this address -- take me off the list" - he's the new manager and they follow instructions. Juan moves to a different group with different responsibilities and is not replaced. John and Jill are both laid off because they became redundant with the staff from the Bangledesh office. Now the list is an empty list that no one sees the mail going to it. Mail administration *might* catch this, or they might not - or it may get removed automatically because company policy has some silly rule like "no lists with less than 4 members" or "empty lists are removed if they remain empty for 30 days". So through policy, you've now shot yourself in the foot and don't even realize it.

And making Monumental Public Disasters is ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471961)

.. abnormal for this company? .. the company that Thumbed their Nose at the iPod because they had the Walkman? .. the company that Thumbed their Nose at the iPhone because they had dial up? .. the company that sets new standards for giving away business like Christmas Gifts ? .. it's no Wonder Steve Jobs loved this company.. wouldn't you? in Steve's position

That department (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47471991)

"SOE's president, John Smedley, has admitted that the expiration notices were being sent to an 'unread email' address"

You mean the e-mail address belonging to the IT department you banished last year? :D

Yet another reason to insist on software freedom (2)

jbn-o (555068) | about two weeks ago | (#47472047)

Early Tuesday, gamers woke up to find out that they couldn't log in to any Sony Online Entertainment games--no Everquest, no Planetside 2, none of them.

Could the users have used another server to connect with each other? Or is this a case of DRM ("Digital Restrictions Management", when properly viewed from the perspective of its effect on the users) [defectivebydesign.org] and, more generally, nonfree software restricting users from running the games with other people?

Re:Yet another reason to insist on software freedo (1)

Cl1mh4224rd (265427) | about two weeks ago | (#47472381)

Early Tuesday, gamers woke up to find out that they couldn't log in to any Sony Online Entertainment games--no Everquest, no Planetside 2, none of them.

Could the users have used another server to connect with each other?

Not much of a gamer, I take it? Most, if not all, of the games affected are not peer-to-peer style multiplayer games; they're MMOs. There's no matchmaking servers involved here.

DNS & SSL cert expiration (1)

wmute (29403) | about two weeks ago | (#47472083)

I work as a sys admin at a medium sized medical research institute, one of the things I made sure to do was to add nagios scrips to throw alerts for important licenses, certs, and domain names. I'm not sure why an organization as huge as Sony Online would not have added these kinds of checks to whatever monitoring system they are using. Having had this happen to me once nearly a decade ago with a SSL cert I can promise that the 10min of coding to add in a check is much more pleasant than a day of meetings to describe to everyone what went wrong.

GoDaddy Does It Right (1)

njhunter (613589) | about two weeks ago | (#47472091)

Any time I have a domain about to expire, GoDaddy is right on top of things with a phone call; Really good follow-up as well. I guess Network Solutions is more akin the government. I'm sure if one renews for ten years, the IT guy that was there at the beginning has moved on and his email address goes no where, except a honeypot.

If Sony insolvent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472097)

Why not just liquidate the company. That's the correct procedure. At least in my country.

If it's good enough for microsoft (1)

trollboy (46578) | about two weeks ago | (#47472107)

I still remember when someone got sued/threatened when MS did the same thing and it killed passport. After calling and unsuccessfully telling them how to fix the problem, he registered the domain, and pointed it back to where it should have been pointed and mailed them saying he would give them back the domain, he just wanted his stuff to work. They unleashed the vicious attack lawyers anyway.

Re:If it's good enough for microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472385)

Their lawyers probably told them they had to do so, otherwise it would give precedent for his actions being legitimate.

Then the next time something like it happens, somebody else does it, and demands compensation for it, and where is Microsoft? Dealing with somebody who can claim that Microsoft let it happen without comment or criticism, so why wouldn't they expect to be paid for the work they did.

Yeah, if nobody ever was a dick, that wouldn't be a problem. But that is not the case, so pre-emptive dickery happens.

Same thing happens with renters, auto mechanics and more. Heck, I won't even try to catch a stray animal anymore after one of my neighbors complained about me grabbing their dog and putting it on a run, in the shade, with water. Now I just call animal control.

idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472135)

that's why you don't send it to a single email, you send it to a distribution list.

Network Solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47472231)

Not surprising really, but I would partially suspect that it has to do with network solutions being the worst possible domain registrar. Yes, Sony should have renewed the domain, yes they should have updated their info with network solutions, but it would surprise me if that was made very difficult by this being such a terribly outdated and overpriced registrar.

come on... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about two weeks ago | (#47472333)

come on guys.. There's lots of reasons to hate on SOE. Hell, I haven't bought an SOE product in 10yrs because of the Foglok fiasco... I was actually banned from their forums for a few months back in the day for suggesting they didnt exist, only later find out I was right. The title of the freek'n thread to announce the disappointment was "CharlieMopps was right, not a troll, there are no frogloks!!!" (paraphrased, the threads been deleted for some time now) If you don't know what thats about you've no reason to hate on SOE. Ok ok, I'm just tryning to point out I have no love for them...

Anyways... Managing a domain is a pain in the ass. I've worked in a few places with large website, I'm sure a few of you have. Maintaining that domain registration is deceptively difficult. Think about it as if you were the one in charge of it.

You tell your staff "Register out domain!"
They go off and come back "well, it appears we can register it for anywhere from 1yr to 5yrs, which you would like?"
You say "5yrs of course!"
They tell you "how would you like it billed? We can pay it one time now... or put it on the company credit card?"
You say "The company card of course! It will renew!"
***5yrs later your site goes down***
How could this happen?!?! An in-depth review shows that the entire team you assigned to take care of that task has either moved on or transfered elsewhere in the company. Doh! Even worse, credit cards only last for 5yrs before they are canceled and reissued, you were doomed from the start. All the phone numbers you gave them were moved, the people gone, and those that answered barely knew what a domain was in the first place. You're biggest fault was apparently setting the renewal so far out. If you'd set it for 1yr at least you could have a repeating process for people to get use to as newhires rolled in and out.

But wait! There's a "contracts" department that should have cought this!
Well "contracts" kind of sorts things in order of importance by cost and that domain registration cost what? $20? So that out it between free Twinkie Friday and the new coffee pot... not really on their radar.

As many times as I've seen this happens it still baffles me to this day why there isn't a service that went something like "$10k per year and you'll never have to worry about any of your domains... ever... pay us, we take care of it"

anyways, whatever... point is, it's not as simple as it appears on the surface.

Re:come on... (1)

ledow (319597) | about two weeks ago | (#47472421)

IT department.
List of all domains.
Expiry date of those domains, culled from WHOIS.

How hard is it? Ten minute job. And you KNOW what domains you have to use - you've been including them in game titles, software on the systems you put out, and keeping those domains running somewhere.

This is NOT a huge task. Even for a multi-million dollar company with 10,000 domains. Hell, it's barely an IT task... more an office admin kind of thing (did they have to "renew" their subscription to the newspapers and tech journals? Were they caught off-guard? Did they have to budget and contract for that? And they're not even business-critical).

Sorry, but I'd go straight to the head of IT, demand to know how it was allowed to get close to expiration, let alone past it. And I guarantee you they'd have a spreadsheet to hand on with their documentation to their successor, who will have on their job description "Manage domain renewals" (if they haven't already).

Fuck, this is an Outlook calendar kind of note, if that. But if I was Sony, I'd be fucked if I wouldn't have it plugged into bog-standard IT helpdesk software like every other contract, renewal and scheduled update required.

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