I have been asked if I can rectify a 403 error on www.kirrawe.com.au. The site was developed and hosted by another web developer who can no longer be contacted.

I have been in contact with the hosting company (DreamHost), but due to security issues, they can only forward my requests to the account holder (the developer), but can't compel them to reply.

In this situation, is there any way to get access to the website files or will my client need to have a new site built?

  • This question lacks details. These things happen from time to time. Are any of the domain name, web hosting, and dns hosting information in the original developer's name or the company name? Who was paying the bills? If the company paid the bills and company contact information were used, that will help. Get as much detail as you can but do not expose it here. Update the question. Just describe what you have. Check out this information and we will know how to help you.
    – closetnoc
    May 2, 2014 at 22:01
  • Thanks for the reply, I did get in contact with Dreamhost who told me that all they could do was forward my email onto the account holder but stated that they cannot compel the account holder to reply which they havn't. All my client has is access to the domain name registrar which I dont think is much help in getting access to the source code. I would think this sort of thing happens a lot but not having any luck finding the answer.
    – johny rox
    May 2, 2014 at 22:11
  • What is the domain name? Can I ask?
    – closetnoc
    May 2, 2014 at 22:20
  • 2
    @dan Great info Dan. I will step up the plate next time around. I guess I focus on the answers too much and am overly cautious on the other stuff. Part of that is because I answer questions during hurry-up-and-wait times while writing, testing, and running code. Thanks again for the info.
    – closetnoc
    May 3, 2014 at 1:52
  • 1
    @dan Thanks for the kind words. I like to help people and have for all of my adult life. I guess helping is a part of who I am and has been a large part of my professional and personal life. The web host part of my previous consulting business was more charity than profit and started out just having fun helping people who really needed it. I worked all night for free many times and loved every second of it.
    – closetnoc
    May 3, 2014 at 3:07

2 Answers 2


It looks like the domain registration for kirrawe.com.au is for Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation which is a good thing. It is proof that the company owns the domain name which at first glance, is not your root problem, but an element of proof and an important one.

Second, I see the name Duane Norman. I am assuming that the company wrote checks and had some level of an agreement with Duane Norman or his company for web development. These payments and any contract or agreement is also proof. I am also assuming that there are invoices or bills that Duane Norman submitted to the company. Also if there is a website for Duane Norman capture the domain name, contact information and registration information and file that away too.

Collect any payments made to DreamHost directly, if any, or any payments made to Duane Norman and note any itemized notations, bills with payments, and so forth to draw a line between the contractor and the company. If the payments made were itemized, then that is excellent proof. Otherwise, the bills and payment pairs/sets are good enough.

Next, I see that part of your site uses Google for e-mail. While I cannot see these details, if you have access to these accounts, the fact that you have access to these accounts is also proof.

Also, you can take snap shots of your site containing the company contact information. This is also proof. All they would need to do is look at the sites code and see this contact information and that may be proof enough. But make sure you are loaded for bear.

The CEO/President (or other officer of the company - CEO is often the best) of Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation needs to write a formal letter of request to have access to the DreamHost account. Make sure this letter has contact information that someone can use to contact the letter writer and that he/she is availble. He/she needs to explain that Duane Norman was hired as an independent consultant or as a company to do work on the companies behalf. Make copies of invoices, payments, itemization, attempts to contact Duane Norman, and proof that Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation owns the domain and that the domain name points to DreamHost.

I have included at the end of this answer some whois and dig data that you can use as proof. It shows that the domain name that Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation owns points to DreamHost.

At the end of the letter, cc (carbon copy) any attorney the company has a relationship with. Make sure this happens.

Note: Redact any checking or other account information.

Do not mail the letter yet.

Contact DreamHost via their standard contact methods, the phone often being the best. Immediately explain that you have a problem and will need a supervisor right away. They may want you to explain the problem and that is okay. Be patient and explain the problem briefly but in enough detail that they are satisfied. A supervisor should be made available to you immediately. Explain it all again and explain that you have proof. Again be patient.

Here is what we know. DreamHost wants to cover their keester. Also, those who answer the phone follow policies and may not have much room to roam. The supervisor will have more latitude. We also know that DreamHost gets these requests often enough to have a policy to resolve these problems though they will not announce it. We also know that DreamHost does not want to lose a loyal and paying customer.

Tell them that you need a reasonable resolution to this problem and that you not only have proof of your claims, but you can provide this proof along with a formal request signed by the CEO (or officer) immediately. Offer to fax this information and spend as much time on the phone as possible to resolve the issue. As you do this, make it clear that you are taking notes and ask for each persons first and last name, position, and contact information should you need to contact them again, as you go.

If you still do not get anywhere, ask for the Legal Department's address and contact information. This usually loosens the wheels. If not, get an attorney to contact the DreamHost attorney and legal department immediately and advise them that they are holding Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation property and preventing Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation from performing further business. That will do it. The company's attorney can offer the proof you amassed. If you reach this point, you will get what you want, but let the attorney do the work. Just offer support along the way.

BTW- It will not get this far trust me!

First things first- relax. These issues always work out. You want to make your case like a business person and offer a mutual commitment such as We want to work with your company and retain the good working relationship we have always had.

Also, keep in touch here. If you come across more problems, the group here is excellent and I am sure we can help you get through this.


Domain Name:                     kirrawe.com.au
Last Modified:                   14-Nov-2012 19:02:51 UTC
Registrar ID:                    WAR
Registrar Name:                  Web Address Registration
Status:                          ok

Registrant:                      Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation
Registrant ID:                   ABN 23983548310
Eligibility Type:                Other

Registrant Contact ID:           R-000911856-SN
Registrant Contact Name:         Duane Norman
Registrant Contact Email:        Visit whois.ausregistry.com.au for Web based WhoIs

Tech Contact ID:                 C-000830650-SN
Tech Contact Name:               Duane Norman
Tech Contact Email:              Visit whois.ausregistry.com.au for Web based WhoIs

Name Server:                     ns1.dreamhost.com
Name Server:                     ns2.dreamhost.com
Name Server:                     ns3.dreamhost.com


; <<>> DiG 9.7.3 <<>> kirrawe.com.au any
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 1397
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 12, AUTHORITY: 3, ADDITIONAL: 3

;kirrawe.com.au.                        IN      ANY

kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      20 ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      20 ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      30 ASPMX2.GOOGLEMAIL.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      30 ASPMX3.GOOGLEMAIL.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      30 ASPMX4.GOOGLEMAIL.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      30 ASPMX5.GOOGLEMAIL.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      MX      10 ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      SOA     ns1.dreamhost.com. hostmaster.dreamhost.com. 2012121100 15535 1800 1814400 14400
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      A
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      NS      ns2.dreamhost.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      NS      ns3.dreamhost.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      NS      ns1.dreamhost.com.

kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      NS      ns1.dreamhost.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      NS      ns3.dreamhost.com.
kirrawe.com.au.         5231    IN      NS      ns2.dreamhost.com.

ns1.dreamhost.com.      156000  IN      A
ns2.dreamhost.com.      156000  IN      A
ns3.dreamhost.com.      156000  IN      A

;; Query time: 77 msec
;; WHEN: Fri May  2 21:57:01 2014
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 428

Assuming the original web provider used an email address you have access to for the domain registration (which is the ethical thing to do), you can have the domain password emailed to you via the domain password recovery form at: http://admin.auda.org.au/password_recovery/blank_recover_password.faces

Once you have the password, you can transfer the domain elsewhere and then point it to a new host.

This might only be helpful if you have a backup of the website that can easily be rebuilt elsewhere.

In this particular case, the password looks like it is being emailed to the original web provider but I thought I'd add this answer anyway in case it helps others.

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