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.nz second-level names now available

Kevin Murphy, October 2, 2014, Domain Registries

The New Zealand Domain Name Commission has started making second-level domains under .nz available for the first time.

Like .uk, which opened up the second level this year, .nz names have previously only been available at the third level, under .co.nz, .net.nz and over a dozen other extensions.

But from this week, existing registrants will be able to register the shorter version of their name via their choice of registrar.

Registry fees are the same as under existing .nz SLDs, while a two-year reservation is free.

The priority period for existing registrants runs through March 30 next year. After that, .nz will open for first-come first-served general availability.

People who first registered their names between May 30 2012 and February 11 2014 — when the DNC was considering the second-level liberalization — get automatic rights to their names.

But for names registered before May 30 2012 there’s the possibility of conflicts — for example between the owners of matching .co.nz and .org.nz names.

In those cases, either party can either give up their rights, claim their rights, or demand that the .nz name not be registered to anyone.

It seems that while the DNC may offer a reconciliation service for conflicted registrants, any registrant of a 3LD registered before May 2012 will be able to dig their heels in and prevent the matching SLD being registered.

There were 551,024 domains across all .nz SLDs at the end of August.

“Frustrated” Morocco denies it supported .tata gTLD

Kevin Murphy, October 2, 2014, Domain Registries

The Moroccan government claims that it did not give its support to the .tata dot-brand gTLD, which was granted to Tata Group, the massive Indian conglomerate, in July.

According to Boubker Seddik Badr, director of digital economy at Morocco’s ministry of trade, .tata “did not receive any endorsement from any Moroccan authority”.

In a September 17 letter (pdf), he expressed his “surprise and very deep frustration” that .tata had been approved by ICANN regardless.

Under ICANN rules, .tata was classified as a “geographic” string because it matches the name of a Moroccan province found on an International Standards Organization list of protected names.

But Tata’s application was finally approved — it was the last bid to pass through evaluation — after a period Extended Evaluation. Its evaluation report (pdf) reads:

The Geographic Names Panel has determined that your application falls within the criteria for a geographic name contained in the Applicant Guidebook Section 2.2.1.4, and the documentation of support or non-objection provided has met all relevant criteria in Section 2.2.1.4.3 of the Applicant Guidebook.

The Guidebook states that letters of support or non-objection:

could be signed by the minister with the portfolio responsible for domain name administration, ICT, foreign affairs, or the Office of the Prime Minister or President of the relevant jurisdiction; or a senior representative of the agency or department responsible for domain name administration, ICT, foreign affairs, or the Office of the Prime Minister.

It’s not clear what documentation Tata provided in order to pass the geographic names review.

Tata Group is a family-owned, $103.27 billion-a-year conglomerate involved in everything from oil to tea to cars to IT consulting to airlines.

The company does not yet appear to have signed a Registry Agreement with ICANN for .tata.

ICANN is to hold its 52nd week-long public meeting in Marrakech, Morocco in February 2015.

OVH to give away 50,000 new gTLD names for free

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2014, Domain Registries

France-based registrar OVH is to make up to 50,000 domain names in its new gTLD .ovh available for free.

According to its web site and a bulletin send to customers today, the regular price of £2.69 ($4.35) will be waived for the first year and renewal pricing will be discounted.

The first 20,000 names registered will renew at £1.01 ($1.63), the remaining 30,000 names will renew at £2.03 ($3.29). There will be a limit of five domains per customer.

While “free” is not an unusual business model in the new gTLD round, .ovh is noteworthy for several other reasons.

It’s the first “dot-brand” new gTLD to accept registrations from third parties, for starters.

It’s also the only live dot-brand belonging to an accredited domain name registrar.

The restrictions on the gTLD also raise eyebrows — in order to register a name in .ovh, you need an OVH customer number.

So while the .ovh names should in theory be available via third-party registrars, such registrars would have to capture the OVH customer number of their own customers — or encourage their own customers to become OVH customers — in order to process the registration.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no mention of any approved third-party registrars on the official .ovh web site.

General availability begins at 1000 UTC Wednesday October 2.

Thanks to Andrew Bennett for the tip.

.bayern starts GA with almost 20,000 names

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2014, Domain Registries

Bayern Connect took its .bayern new gTLD into general availability yesterday and secured close to 20,000 registrations.

This morning’s zone file count shows that at least 19,121 domains were registered during .bayern’s combined sunrise/landrush period, which ended a few weeks ago.

GA kicked off at 1300 local time yesterday.

There are no local presence requirements to register names, according to the registry’s web site.

Bayern in the German word for Bavaria, Germany’s second most-populous state. It has 12.5 million inhabitants, 1.5 million of whom live in its capital, Munich.

It’s the third most-successful geographic gTLD launch of the current round, after .london’s 35,000 names and .berlin’s 33,000.

On a per-head basis, however, the numbers don’t look so good.

While .koeln, the gTLD for the city of Cologne, had one registered domain for every 79 inhabitants at the end of its first GA day, .bayern has one domain per 663 people. The numbers for .berlin and .london were 106 and 240 respectively.

Phishers prefer free ccTLDs to new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, September 29, 2014, Domain Registries

Domains in free and cheap ccTLDs are much more likely to host phishing attacks than new gTLDs.

That’s one of the conclusions of the latest report of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, which found that Freenom’s re-purposed African ccTLDs were particularly risky.

The first-half 2014 report found 22,679 “maliciously registered” domains used in phishing attacks. That’s flat on the second half of 2013 and almost double the first half of 2013.

Only roughly a quarter of the domains used in phishing had been registered for the purpose. The rest were pointing to compromised web servers.

On new gTLDs, the APWG said:

As of this writing, the new gTLD program has not resulted in a bonanza of phishing. A few phishers experimented with new gTLD domain names, perhaps to see if anyone noticed. But most of the new gTLD domains that were used for phishing were actually on compromised web sites.

The new gTLDs .agency, .center, .club, .email and .tips were the only ones to see any maliciously registered phishing domains in the half — each had one — according to the report.

The APWG speculates quite reasonably that the relatively high price of most new gTLD domains has kept phishers away but warns that this could change as competition pushes prices down.

While .com hosts 54% of all phishing domains, small ccTLDs that give away domains for free or cheap are disproportionately likely to have such domains in their zones, the report reveals.

The Freenom-operated ccTLDs .cf (Central African Republic), .ml (Mali) and .ga (Gabon) top the table of most-polluted TLDs, alongside PW Registry’s .pw (Palau).

Freenom, which also runs .tk, offers free domains, while PW Registry has a very low registry fee.

APWG measures the risk of phishing by TLD by counting phishing domains per 10,000 registered names, where the median score is 4.7 and .com’s score is 4.1.

.cf tops the charts with 320.8, followed by .ml with 118.9, .pw with 122, .ga with 42,9 and .th (Thailand) with 27.5. These number include compromised as well as phisher-registered domains.

Read the APWG report here.