If you've ever configured a network router, you might have come across a domain on the back of your device or in the manual that helps you quickly set the thing up, instead of having to search for the IP address. With TP-Link, it used to be tplinklogin.net. At least on some of its older devices, until the company forgot to renew its license for the same.
That's not the only domain name affected by TP-Link's oversight, though. While tplinklogin.net was used on routers sold until 2014, tplinkextender.net was used by wireless range extenders made by the company. Now, both the domains are not owned by TP-Link anymore, and have been registered by someone else, who's reportedly asking for $2.5 million (roughly Rs. 16.8 crores) to return control for one of the domains.
The reason this could result in a problem is down to how redirection works. When you're initially setting up your TP-Link router, it's still offline and hence typing in tplinklogin.net will send you to the proper local IP address, which in most cases is either 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1. But once you're connected to the Internet, your browser will use the system DNS server to resolve the IP address for the website, which will now point to the squatter's website.
Anyone who owns these domains could use them for phishing purposes - be it to get router credentials from people or even use it to upload a modded firmware onto your router. So you would think TP-Link would do its best to buy back the domains, but it has chosen not to in light of the asking price, according to a Twitter user.
Instead, the company is changing the online documentation on its websites and asking users to use tplinkwifi.net for routers and tplinkrepeater.net for extenders. To go with that, TP-Link has also issued a statement to Slashgear: "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."
But it seems the process is still underway. At the time of writing, one TP-Link FAQs page was still using the old domain - tplinklogin.net.