The National High-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) used to investigate serious and organised crimes committed on the internet. In 2006 it became part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Although the NHTCU ceased to exist about two years ago, its old website (which used to be located at www.nhctu.org) is still linked to by a number of high-profile websites. For instance, the BBC added a link to it from this story just over a month ago.

With the old website address getting this sort of attention, you’d have thought the domain name would be worth taking care of. It clearly attracts some traffic (probably quite a lot), so commonsense suggests it would be a good idea to keep renewing it.

After all, if it was allowed to expire, the domain name could be snapped up by anyone. They could use it for anything. For instance, someone could use the address to host a malicious website which could infect computers with viruses.

However, as reported by PC Pro, the old owners of the domain name (presumably SOCA) have allowed it to expire. It’s since been snapped up by a German chap. He’s not using the domain for any malicious purposes, but the new site must be a little confusing for anyone who was hoping to report a high-tech crime.

It’s a good bit of business by the new owner, but allowing the registration to lapse does look a little sloppy on the part of SOCA.

Regardless of the fact that the NHTCU doesn’t actually exist any more, when the old website address is still being quoted in news stories and articles on the web, it makes sense to hang on to it and redirect traffic to the SOCA website as appropriate.

In the best case, allowing the domain name to expire saves a few quid and confuses people who go to the old address. But in the worst case, the domain could have conceivably ended up with someone planning to use it to commit high-tech crime. Now that would have been embarrassing.

Get the full story from PC Pro here. And remember to use our auto-renew feature to hang on to your domain names. You can access it by logging in to the 123-reg control panel.

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