The University Of Queensland Forgot To Renew Its Domain Name

I remember being a university student. Saturdays on campus were pretty regular. Finishing assessments, meeting up for group work, cramming for a Monday morning exam or just going by the student hub for some free internet to browse Reddit on. Presumably, students at the University of Queensland were doing all of these things when all of the university's official sites and email addresses stopped working on Saturday. The cause? The university had forgotten to renew its own domain name. Fuuuuuuuuuuuu—

The domain name in question — uq.edu.au — dropped out of registration early Saturday morning, affecting services across the whole campus including staff and student email, internet connectivity, shared student services, right down to a whole bunch of "miscellaneous" nonsense nobody would even expect.

Reports began flooding the IT department that anything involving *.uq.edu.au was having trouble resolving. It could only be one thing. A quick search of whois and the .edu.au zone revealed the problem. The university told students and staff:

Initial investigation shows that the uq.edu.au domain is absent from the edu.au zone and whois is showing the domain as expired. The domain will be progressively dropping out from nameservers across the Internet as the TTL expires in each nameserver.

Support staff scrambled to re-register the domain name which, for some reason, was still a manual process as uq.edu.au dropped out of name servers all over the internet.

The domain was re-registered and by 3:30pm, services gradually came back online. It took until 5:30pm for services to be restored to most, if not all ISPs.

The university told us today that the process for re-registration was manual at the time, and automated processes have now been put in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Of course that's cold comfort to those who actually had things to do that they couldn't on Saturday. A tipster has informed us that one lecturer has even pushed back the due date on a crucial assessment to any students who felt disadvantaged.

The university wasn't at a huge risk of anyone coming in and squatting on its domain. The .edu.au domain is closed to the general public, meaning you or I couldn't go in and snipe it away from UQ the second they were too stupid to renew it, but let this be a sage lesson to anyone with a domain name: they do expire, and you do need to be ready.


Comments

    this happens regularly at any large corp.

    HAHA, Its really funny because same thing happened at my work. Website went down, email addresses stopped working, All the IT guys were trying to work out what went wrong, scratching their head until a facepalm to the head when realised domain hadnt been renewed.

    Even if it had expired there is something like a 3 month grace period (for .au domains) before it is released for registration.

      .edu.au domains cannont be purchased by any one other than the original organisation that registered them and must be an educational entity.

    It's happened to me a few times. Even though my contact details are always up to date, I don't get any notification. Luckily it only takes a quick phone call to get it back online. Just a nuisance really.

    Interestingly enough for me i had no issues using TPG's DNS server (optus, googledns etc wasnt working). So +1 tpg for being super slow with their DNS updates!

      This, isn't a good thing generally speaking. The domain should expire for caching servers as the TTL is reached.

    Haven't they even heard of such thing as 'auto renewal'?? Should have been all sorted with the finance dept at an ongoing basis, won't you think? :/
    What an embarrassment...

    In the time where the domain name wasn't registered, could it have been possible for someone else to buy it, and then sell it to the University of Queensland?

      If you re-read the last paragraph, No, it's not possible to "steal" the domain after it has expired

      Nah, definitely not. edu.au domains are controlled by the government.

      If you read the end of the article you'd have seen that this is not the case.

    This happened to one of Microsoft's domains in the late '90s (or perhaps early '00s). Some kind hearted MS friendly geek paid their registration fee and left the DNS entries pointing where they were meant to.

    Also the Student Union is uber dodgey (http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/08/20/university-of-qld-students-rebel-over-corrupt-election/) and there's been "irregularities in admissions" (http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2011/11/11/3363147.htm?site=brisbane)

      I think we'll just cover all that with a blanket one of these: Allegedly those things.

        oh yes, no defamation here, no sir.

    Lol! I couldn't stop laughing when I read this... Because on Saturday I wanted to open my lectures so I can work on some assessment and none of the PDFs, or sites for that matter, worked!
    I buzzed it through to a friend online and they had the same problem, I used caches to help myself :) Well, that's one mystery solved. And another shame I can add to uni's name :P but I'll still *like* UQ...

    while every is going well, we ask why to have an IT to the corp, but here they really failled!

    This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    Happens all the time. One of the most well-known was when Bunnings let Hardware.com.au expire. It was bought 'on the drops' for $33K by... their soon to be rival Woolworths!

    The domain investmentProperty.com.au was also accidentally left to lapse and then snapped up for $125K

    http://www.smartcompany.com.au/information-technology/20110916-investment-property-domain-sets-record-for-highest-price-sold-in-public-auction.html

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now