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Court rules domain name list should stay secret

Kevin Murphy, May 21, 2019, 11:41:54 (UTC), Domain Registries

Publishing a list of every domain name in their zone is something that most TLD registries do automatically on a daily basis, but a court in Chile has ruled that doing so is a cybersecurity risk.

NIC Chile, which runs .cl, said last week that it has won an appeal against a Transparency Council ruling that would have forced it to publish a list of the domains it manages.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the registry was within its rights to refuse to hand over an Excel spreadsheet listing the 575,430 domains in .cl to the person who requested it.

The request was just for the list of domains, with none of the other data you’d find in a zone file and no Whois information about the registrants.

Nevertheless, the court unanimously ruled that to hand over the list would present “cybersecurity risks”, according to NIC Chile attorney Margarita Valdés Cortés.

NIC Chile said in a statement:

In this particular case, it was considered that the bulk delivery of domain names to a private individual could generate risks of cybersecurity of various kinds, both in access to information as a result of those domain names as well as the possibility that, by having such a list, attacks on servers, phishing, spam or others could be made easier. Similarly, the ruling of the Court of Appeals understood that the delivery of the data affects commercial and economic rights of the holders of these .CL domains, and considered that there is a legal cause that justifies NIC Chile´s refusal to turn over the list of all registered names.

Cortés said that the case will now go to the nation’s Supreme Court for a final decision, after the Transparency Council appealed.

Access to zone files is considered by many security researchers to be an invaluable tool in the fight against cybercrime.

NIC Chile has published the ruling, in Spanish, here (pdf).

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Comments (2)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    .de and .br also do not publish zone files, and yet have less abuse than legacy gTLDs. If security researchers want to fight abuse, they just need to provide abuse feeds and patterns to registries. TLDs that care about reputation will act on such information.

    But not having zone files prevent selling services to IP owners… so it’s really not about security, but money coming from IP interests.

  2. Theo Geurts says:

    SIDN and Afnic also no longer publish these lists for some time and several other ccTLD’s.

    Giving access to zone files to criminals? Not a bright idea.

    Giving access to LEA’s and infosec companies to fight cybercrime, that’s usually a good idea.

    I never understood why ICANN facilitates zone file access to folks who abuse such lists. Feels like a weapon dealer providing weapons to good guys and the bad guys

Leave a Reply to Rubens Kuhl