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Nic.ly website defaced by hackers

Concern for 'unstable' short URLs could speed uptake of Twitter's t.co

Nic.ly
Nic.ly: not looking very corporate at the time of writing

Sophos reports that domain registry nic.ly has been hacked. The registry is responsible for .ly domain names, but, at the time of writing, all that remains is a message from ‘Electr0n’, a curt “bye bye Qadaffi”, a reference to the date Libyan protestors began demonstrating, and some ‘greetings’ to fellow hackers.

At present, link shorteners that use Libyan domains — notably bit.ly — appear to be unaffected by the hack, but this nonetheless showcases the risk if you’re at all reliant on link shorteners that are out of your control, especially when they’re run by an organisation in an unstable region.

Back in October 2010, link shortener vb.ly was seized by the Libyan government, according to its owner, due to her showing “bare arms in a photograph”. While there’s no indication bit.ly will be affected by the current fighting in Libya, nor seized by the government, now would certainly be a good time to start thinking of alternate services, or rolling your own shortener (such as Whistle).

Due to the brevity of tweets, Twitter is one of the primary reasons for link shorteners existing; and from Twitter’s standpoint, it appears its t.co rollout couldn’t have come at a better time. While the company’s t.co site claims the domain is there to “protect users from harmful activity, to provide value for the developer ecosystem, and as a quality signal for surfacing relevant, interesting Tweets”, it should also lead to a sharp reduction in reliance on existing link shorteners.

Do you use .ly domains for any projects? Have you rolled your own shortener to get away from such domains? Let us know in the comments.

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