So I've wondered this for a long time.
Where does email sent to
*@example.com go? If I accidentally sent sensitive information to
*@example.com would some evil person (potentially at the IANA) be able to retrieve it someday?
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If you send an email to
Bottom line: It depends on your own configuration. But if IANA set up a server today, they might be able to receive messages you tried to send 3 days ago.
If there's no MX record, mail servers will attempt deliver to the A record.
example.com's servers don't listen on port 25, so the mail server won't establish a TCP connection and won't even begin delivery.
example.com has no MX record, so your SMTP server on the sending domain should bounce the message if configured as most SMTP servers are.
EDIT: for clarity to those who find this answer in the future, here is an explanation of what an MX record is: (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mx_record retrieved November 21, 2011)
So, basically, example.com, example.net, and example.org have no server appointed to handle incoming mail, and therefore any mail sent to them should be returned to the sender as "undeliverable" (may vary based on SMTP server configuration, but returning to sender as "undeliverable" is a very common behaviour for this situation).
EDIT 2: Someone brought up the RFC 5321 defined behaviour of falling back to using the A record in the case of a missing MX record. I searched this RFC ( http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5321 ) and found no such thing, but it's possible that some MTAs (Mail Transfer Agent, such as exim, postfix, sendmail, and Microsoft Exchange Server, among others) may try to deliver mail via SMTP to the address defined in the A record. For posterity, here is what happens when you attempt to establish an SMTP connection to the defined A record address for example.com (22.214.171.124 at time of writing):
EDIT 3: see replies below for clarifications on relevant RFCs and fallback behaviour.
The Internet Assigned Number Authority:
As described in RFC 2606, we maintain a number of domains such as EXAMPLE.COM and EXAMPLE.ORG for documentation purposes. These domains may be used as illustrative examples in documents without prior coordination with us. They are not available for registration.