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The GOP’s web addresses can be hacked

Police stand guard as demonstrators with anti-Trump signs rally outside Portland City Hall in Portland, Maine, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, near Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign appearance at Merrill Auditorium.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Kinda like this, but on the internet.
  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s the digital equivalent of using a marker to deface a campaign poster; like scribbling “don’t” at the top of a “vote Trump” sign. Yet the Republican party has left itself open to this kind of tomfoolery when it has the power to prevent it.

The party’s website,, is configured to forward any subdomain it doesn’t recognize back to the top level domain. It means that anyone can share what looks like official Republican party website URLs even though they could contain defamatory, embarrassing, or offensive things.

For instance, sends you to the home page. So does

A video of Gov. Mike Pence accepting the party’s nomination for Vice President can be seen at as well as

The Republican National Committee did not immediately return my request for comment.

Using a wildcard to accept incoming internet requests is not uncommon, but it is by no means conventional either.

“The upside is if someone mistypes the www at the beginning of the URL they are still directed to the correct website,” according to Doug Madory a internet infrastructure researcher at Dyn, a company specializing in internet infrastructure. “On the flip side it could create a branding issue if people start circulating a website like and it appears to be a valid URL.”

This isn’t the first time the party left itself open to digital vandalism. In 2009, it launched a URL shortening service that was quickly co-opted by pranksters who used the service to create links pointing to disreputable, controversial, mocking, and ironic websites. That service was taken down shortly thereafter.

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