ZoneEdit offline for five days

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2012, Domain Registrars

The Dotster-owned DNS service provider ZoneEdit this morning returned from an unexplained five-day outage that has left many users extremely miffed.

The interruption affected only ZoneEdit’s management interface, not its DNS resolution, so it only affected customers who needed to make changes to their zones.

Users first started reporting they couldn’t access their accounts on Friday.

I’ve reported the story for The Register here.

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OpenRegistry behind 20 new gTLD apps

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2012, Domain Registries

OpenRegistry will provide the back-end technical infrastructure for 20 new generic top-level domain applications filed by 15 clients, according to a report.

Dutch telco KPN, consultancy Deloitte and financial management firm LPL Financial are among its dot-brand clients, according to Knack.be, quoting executives.

Presumably, we’re looking at bids for .kpn and .lpl as well as .deloitte, which Deloitte confirmed earlier this month.

Its portfolio of applications also includes two cities – one is .gent for Ghent, the other is an American city – and two generic terms that have not yet been revealed.

(UPDATE: While OpenRegistry is not naming the American city, I hear through the grapevine that it might be Boston).

Its clients have a total market cap of $150 billion, according to the report.

That’s not a bad roster for the start-up, whose technical arm is known as Sensirius. The Benelux company was founded in late 2010 by former executives from EuroDNS and Belgian ccTLD manager DNS.be.

A year ago it won the contract to manage the back-end for .sx, the new ccTLD for Sint Maarten.

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Rugby board tries for .rugby with TLDH

Kevin Murphy, April 23, 2012, Domain Registries

The International Rugby Board has applied to ICANN for the generic top-level domain .rugby with Top Level Domain Holdings, the IRB announced today.

It appears to be a defensive as well as offensive move, judging by the press release.

It’s about “protecting and promoting Rugby’s values and ethos” and ensuring .rugby “resides within the sport”, according to IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

The application will be filed in partnership with TLDH, as well as a new company called ROAR Domains, which appears to be a part of a Kiwi sports marketing agency.

If the bid is successful, TLDH subsidiary Minds + Machines will provide the registry back-end.

The IRB is the international body for rugby associations which organizes the Rugby World Cup.

There are already a few .sport bids, and the Australian Football League has applied for a .afl dot-brand, but I think .rugby may be the first sport-specific gTLD application to be announced.

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TAS down for at least another week

Kevin Murphy, April 21, 2012, Domain Registries

If you’re just joining us, welcome to the ICANN community.

The TLD Application System will be offline for another week, possibly more, as ICANN struggles to deal with the fallout from its embarrassing data leakage bug.

ICANN had promised an update today on the timing of the reopening of TAS, which was taken offline April 12 just 12 hours before the new gTLD application filing deadline arrived.

But what applicants got instead was a promise to provide another timing update a week from now.

Chief operating officer Akram Atallah said in a statement:

identifying which applicants may have been affected by the technical glitch, and determining who may have been able to see someone else’s data, require extensive analysis of a very large data set. This is a time-consuming task, but it is essential to ensure that all potentially affected applicants are accurately identified and notified.

Until that process is complete, we are unable to provide a specific date for reopening the application system.

In order to give all applicants notice and an opportunity to review and complete their applications, upon reopening the system we will keep it open for at least five business days.

No later than 27 April 2012 we will provide an update on the reopening of the system and the publication of the applied-for new domain names.

So the best-case scenario, if these dates hold up, would see TAS coming back online Monday, April 30 and closing Friday, May 4.

The April 30 target date for the Big Reveal is clearly no longer possible.

ICANN has stated previously that it expects to take two weeks between the closing of the application window and the revelation of the list of gTLDs being applied for.

The Big Reveal could therefore be postponed until mid-May, almost a month from now.

Any applicant who has already booked flights and hotels in order to attend one of the various reveal events currently being planned by third parties may find themselves out of pocket.

Regular ICANN participants are of course accustomed to delay.

ICANN’s image problem now is rather with the hundreds of companies interfacing with the organization for the first time, applying for new gTLDs, which may be wondering whether this kind of thing is par for the course.

Well, yes, frankly, it is.

That said, the time to avoid this problem was during testing, before the application window opened in January.

Now that the bug has manifested, it’s probably in most people’s best interests for ICANN to fully understand went wrong and what impact it could have had on which applicants. This takes time.

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ICANN vows to fight TAS bug “monkey business”

Kevin Murphy, April 20, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN chief security officer Jeff Moss has pledged to fully disclose what new gTLD application data was leaked to which users via the TLD Application System security bug.

Talking to ICANN media chief Brad White in a video interview, Moss said:

We’re putting everyone on notice: we know what file names and user names were displayed to what people who were logged in and when. We want to do this very publicly because we want to prevent any monkey business. We are able to reconstruct what file names and user names were displayed.

ICANN has been going through its logs and will know “very specifically” what data was visible to which TAS users, he said.

The bug, he confirmed, was related to file deletions:

Under certain circumstances that were hard to replicate users that had previously deleted files could end up seeing file names of users that had uploaded a file… Certain data was being revealed to users that were not seeking data, it was just showing up on their screen.

The actual contents of the files uploaded to TAS were not visible to unauthorized users, he confirmed. There are also no reasons to believe any outside attacks occurred, he said.

He refused to reveal how many applicants were affected by the vulnerability, saying that ICANN has to first double-check its data in order to verify the full extent of the problem.

The interview reveals that the bug could manifest itself in a number of different ways. Moss said:

The problem has several ways it can express itself… we would solve it one way and it would appear another way, we would solve it another way and it would appear a third way. At some point we were just uncomfortable that we understood the core issue and that’s when we took the system offline.

TAS was taken down April 12, just 12 hours before the new gTLD application window closed.

ICANN has been providing daily updates ever since, and has promised to reveal tonight when TAS will reopen for business, for how long, and whether April 30 Big Reveal day has been postponed.

Applicants first reported the bug March 19, but ICANN did not realize the extent of the problem until later, Moss said.

In hindsight now we realized the 19th was the first expression of this problem, but at the time the information displayed made no sense to the applicant, it was just random numbers… at that point there were no dots to connect.

Here’s the video:

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