SINGAPORE - Several webpage addresses that have surfaced recently are redirecting people to the websites of universities here. For example, a domain name called "nusrejects.com" directs users to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) website.
The cases here appear to be inspired by a similar act in the United States borne out of college rivalry. Typing "stanfordrejects.com" leads to the University of California, Berkeley website, for instance.
The cheeky reroute caused a stir online on Wednesday (Oct 17), when it was shared on various social media platforms.
Later on Wednesday evening, a domain called "nturejects.com" was created in an apparent tit-for-tat fashion, which directed users to the National University of Singapore (NUS) home page.
But the joke has been taken further. A check by The Straits Times on Thursday found more tertiary institutions implicated, with domain names such as "sitrejects.com", "smurejects.com", "sussrejects.com", "sutdrejects.com" and "simrejects.com". Some of the websites lead to the webpages of insurance companies such as Prudential and AIA. Others lead back to the tertiary institutions' websites.
Another site that was found on Thursday, "safrejects.com", redirected users to the SMRT website.
As of Thursday 9pm, these URLs were still working.
IT security expert Vincent Tay, who has been in the cyber-security industry for 15 years, said it is easy to buy an online domain name and redirect it to another website.
"You can buy a domain for less than $10 and the domain will provide a DNS Manager (a software) to point to whatever address you want," said Mr Tay.
He added that it is not illegal as far as he knows, and that he has never come across such a case here.
Asked about what recourse victims of such redirected URLs have, Mr Tay said: "The entity may ask the service provider not to direct the URL to its site as it is not a representation of the entity."
He also said a search can be done on www.whois.com to contact the direct administrator of the site.
A search by ST found that the registrar of "nusrejects.com" is Porkbun, a domain management company based in Portland, Oregon. However, the name of the registrant is private.
The "nturejects.com" site is provided by California-based IT service management company Namecheap, but the registrant's name is also private.
When contacted about the redirected webpage address issue, an NTU spokesman said: "The university is aware and taking the necessary steps to resolve it."
ST has contacted some of the other universities here for comment.