Stop Using So Many Domain Names
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One thing that frustrates me endlessly is major companies' obsession with using countless domain names for public-facing websites and services. What do I mean by this? Companies should be using one root domain for public services and stick with it.
For example, I think Google does a great job at this (for the most part).
If I want to view my Google email, I go to
I want to look at my Google photos, I go to
photos.google.com. If I want
shop Google hardware, I go to
This builds trust that if you’re visiting a Google service, the root domain should
google.com, and helps to easily point out phishing attempts. A URL like
mygooglemail.com immediately stands out as being phishy (pun intended)
as it doesn’t contain
On the other hand, let me login to my university Office 365 account portal, and tally up the root domain names of the services listed:
sharepoint.com dynamics.com office.com kaiza.la windowsazure.com powerapps.com microsoft.com microsoftstream.com aka.ms yammer.com
Some of these even look like phishing domains.
Just for fun, I looked at similar domains for sale to see how easy it would
be to just buy a similar looking domain.
microsoftvideo.com is taken
(and fun fact, does not take you to a Microsoft site)
many similar domains like
microsoftvid.com are for sale and could easily be
abused by phishers. Who could blame users? It looks just as official as a real
My point is, this seems ridiculous. How are normal users supposed to remember that all these different domains are controlled by Microsoft and are actually safe? Now, I understand the need for cookie-less CDN domains. But all the domains I just listed for Microsoft are right on the Office 365 portal as the “official” link to get to various services.
Microsoft has so many domains, they even have documentation on the lists of them for Office 365 and Windows so that administrators know what to whitelist in their firewalls. A brief selection of root domains:
aadrm.com aka.ms akamaihd.net akamaized.net aspnetcdn.com azure-apim.net azure.com azure.net azurerms.com bing.com cloudappsecurity.com digicert.com edgesuite.net entrust.net geotrust.com gfx.ms globalsign.com globalsign.net identrust.com letsencrypt.org live.com live.net lync.com microsoft.com microsoftazuread-sso.com microsoftonline-p.com microsoftonline-p.net microsoftonline.com msauth.net msauthimages.net msecnd.net msedge.net msft.net msftauth.net msftauthimages.net msftconnecttest.com msftidentity.com msidentity.com msn.com msocdn.com mstea.ms o365weve.com office.com office.net office365.com omniroot.com onenote.com onenote.net onestore.ms onmicrosoft.com optimizely.com outlook.com phonefactor.net powerapps.com public-trust.com sfbassets.com sharepoint.com sharepointonline.com skype.com skypeassets.com skypeforbusiness.com svc.ms symcb.com symcd.com trafficmanager.net verisign.com verisign.net virtualearth.net windows.com windows.net windowsazure.com windowsupdate.com xbox.com xboxlive.com xboxservices.com
Clearly, not all of these are owned/controlled by Microsoft, such as the certificate
letsencrypt.org or vendors like
optimizely.com, but the
vast majority are definitely owned by Microsoft.
And good lord, is that a lot of different domain names.
While Google is certainly better (especially for their consumer services), they still have their fair share of confusing domains. Off the top of my head:
google.com withgoogle.com goo.gl goo.gle g.co docs.new sheets.new slides.new tv.google domains.google googleblog.com blog.google blogspot.com blogger.com android.com chromecast.com web.dev googlemail.com googleapis.com googlesource.com doubleclick.net google-analytics.com (only domain with a dash?) googleadservices.com googletagmanager.com googleusercontent.com googlevideo.com gstatic.com gvt1.com ggpht.com chromium.org crbug.com crrev.com
(I’m ignoring their public cloud domains like
In conclusion, please use just one root domain for public services. It decreases phishing potential, promotes brand consistency, and makes it easier for regular users to identify official sites.