Can you trust the Wall Street Journal's domains?

Just because a company owns the .com domain doesn't mean anything when it comes to other domains with different TLDs

Last week I wrote that skepticism may be the most important thing you bring with you when dealing with the Internet. A few days later in the Wall Street Journal, Walter Mossberg said basically the same thing - "...the most insidious Internet security problems today rely on human gullibility, not tricky software."

His article, How to Avoid Cons That Can Lead to Identity Theft, included this advice "Don't click on links to offers for free software or goods that you receive in an email, especially from a sender or company you've never heard of."

The problem with this advice is twofold. First, the From address of an email message is very easily forged. You may get a scam message that seems like it came from a company you know, but really didn't. Also, identifying a company you know has its own issues.

Suppose, for example, you got an email message about a really cheap price for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. The phony From address could well be Suppose too, that the scam sent you to the web site.

Many people know that the online version of the Wall Street Journal is But, has nothing at all to do with the newspaper or with Dow Jones. It belongs to Marc Gaines and the web page that currently displays is a temporary one that GoDaddy provides for their customers. The point being, Mr. Gaines, can do whatever he likes with that website, including tricking people into thinking it offers cheap subscriptions to the newspaper. What better way to learn personal information such as name, address, phone number and credit card number? Perfect for identity theft.

Just because a famous company owns the .com domain, it implies nothing at all about other domains.

In the case of the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones owns and However, belongs to Seth Wilkof who is looking to sell it. is also a scam-in-waiting. Today, it is a temporary default web page, but it belongs to someone named Natalia Skuridina.

Even someone who doesn't know that is the Wall Street Journal, certainly knows the organization behind That's easy. But what about And They both belong to Dow Jones, but, that's where the good news ends.

It is not clear who owns, but Dow Jones definitely does not own or

You can see who registered a domain by doing a WHOIS lookup at the website of any registrar. For example, at Network Solutions, go to and at go to

I focused on the Wall Street Journal, only because Walter Mossberg writes for the paper. The concept though, applies universally. I get bitten by it myself. Two websites that I visit are and I don't, however, visit them often enough to train my fingers to type .net instead of .com. Neither company owns the .com version of their domain name.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

Featured Video

Why do so many of us still buy cars with off-road abilities?

Cities are full of cars like the Subaru XV that can drive off-road but will never see any challenging terrain. What drives us to buy cars with these abilities when we don't really need them most of the time?

by Drew Stearne