While domain names like “google.com” or “apple.com” seem to last forever, their ownership doesn’t. Companies who maintain these and other official URLs need to regularly renew ownership or risk losing ownership to someone else. Network equipment maker TP-LINK might have forgotten that simple chore. Either that or it decided to simply let its ownership lapse. Either way, it has been discovered that two domain’s formerly used by TP-LINK to configure its routers and Wi-Fi Extenders are, in fact, no longer owned by TP-LINK at all.
UPDATE: According to a TP-Link representative, “TP-LINK has not been using the domain tplinklogin.net – and this domain has not been used since 2014. Any products purchased at that time using the old domain will be automatically redirected to the internal set-up page, so there will not be any security issues.”
This same represenative said that they have several other current domains for current products, including the following:
Range Extender: http://tplinkrepeater.net
Wireless PLC: http://tplinkplc.net
Below you’ll find the rest of the article written before the statement above was sent to SlashGear.
The two domains in question are tplinklogin.net, which TP-LINK tells owners to use for configuring their routers, and tplinkextender.net, which serves the same purpose but for the company’s Wi-Fi extender products. These URLs are simply substitutes for the device’s own default IP address, like the usual 192.168.1.1, which users type into a web browser in order to setup and configure their devices.
According to the reports, both those URLs no longer appear to be owned by TP-LINK and instead redirect to web pages that are trying to sell ownership of those domains. Another domain used for configuring routers, tplinkwifi.net, still remains owned by TP-LINK. Ownership of the two lapsed domains remain anonymous.
Technically speaking, there shouldn’t be any critical impact to owners. These TP-LINK devices are configured to detect attempts to access such URLs and simply redirects them to the router’s or extender’s internal IP address rather than connecting to the Internet. In short, they should work as normal for owners trying to access those domains using their TP-LINK router/extender. Only those accessing the URLs using a different router or connection will encounter problems, and potential security issues (like phishing).
That said, the incident doesn’t cast a favorable light on TP-LINK. Considering how essential tplinklogin.net and tplinkextender.net is to its devices, especially older models still in the market, it is rather perplexing that TP-LINK would let ownership of the domains slip from its control. And instead of trying to buy back those domains, TP-LINK is instead simply updating their online documentation to point to still owned domain, implying that the company is indeed aware of the situation.