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Register.com hit by breach notice over 62,232 domains

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2013, Domain Registrars

Register.com, a Web.com business that is one of the top ten registrars by domains under management, has been hit by an ICANN compliance notice covering 62,232 domain names.

It’s a weird one.

ICANN says that the company has failed to provide records documenting the ownership trail of the domains in question, which all currently belong to Register.com itself.

The notice names 000123.net, 0011pp.com, 00h4.com, 010fang.net, 01rabota.com, 02071988.com and 020tong.com, but it seems that these are merely the first in a alphabetical list that is much, much longer.

Judging by DomainTools’ Whois history, these domains all appear to have been originally registered at various times by individuals in China and India, then allowed to expire, then registered by Register.com to itself.

The only common link appears to be that they were kept by Register.com after they expired, for whatever reasons registrars usually hoard their customers’ expired domains.

According to the compliance notice, ICANN wants the registrar to:

Provide a detailed explanation to ICANN how 62,232 domains in which Register.com itself is the registrant are used for the purposes of Registrar Services, as defined by Section 1.11 of the RAA;

The Registrar Accreditation Agreement says registrars have to keep registrant agreement records, except for a limited class of cases where the domain is owned by the registrar itself and used for registrar-related stuff.

Register.com, one of the original five oldest competitive registrars, has been given until October 2 to come up with the requested information for face losing its accreditation.

The registrar has almost three million gTLD domains under management. Combined with its Web.com sister registrars, which include Network Solutions, the number is closer to 10 million.

Angry Birds backing two Chinese-language gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2013, Domain Registries

The Finnish/Irish new gTLD applicant TLD Registry Ltd has signed two ICANN Registry Agreements, covering the Chinese strings .在线 (.online) and .中文网 (a phrase meaning “Chinese language website”).

The deals were signed yesterday, but the news is set to be formally announced in Beijing on Tuesday by the Finnish prime minister, Jyrki Katainen, who’s on a state visit to the country.

He’ll be joined by Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment, which is supporting TLD Registry as the first announced member of its “founders program”.

The two new agreements mean ICANN has now contractual powers over more new gTLDs (19) than legacy ones (18).

TLD Registry CEO Arto Isokoski told DI this morning that 在线 and 中文网 are already extremely well-known and widely-used phrases on the Chinese internet.

“在线” is the direct translation of “online” and “中文网” is what Chinese web users instinctively type when they’re searching for the Chinese-language version of a foreign brand’s web site, he said.

“It surprises me as well that these were not contested,” Isokoski said. “These are the strings that Chinese users type in when they’re looking for web sites online.”

Both TLDs will be open to registrants anywhere in the world, though .中文网 seems to be particularly suited for brands from the ASCII parts of the world, looking to improve SEO in the country.

Isokoski said that the company hopes to take .在线 and .中文网 to market early next year. If the strings are delegated in early November, then general availability could start in mid-January, he said.

Depending on ICANN delays, the launch schedule may have to be moved back to February or March in order to avoid the “dead period” around Chinese New Year, which starts in late January, he said.

The most directly competitive gTLD would be .网址, an arguably superior string meaning roughly “website”, which is now out of contention and likely to sign its own contract soon.

Two other Chinese gTLDs, both owned by Donuts, have ICANN contracts already — .游戏 (games) and .企业 (business).

Isokoski said that TLD Registry hopes to have about 20 members of its founders program (included Rovio, which is Finnish but makes games wildly popular in China) and about 20 launch registrars.

Like other IDN gTLD registries, the company is hoping that its first-to-market advantage will give its marketing a lift due to the extra media interest.

TLD Registry is based in Ireland, near its back-end provider Afilias, but was founded by Finns. Afilias alum Pinky Brand is managing registrar relationships for the company.

.taipei not blocked after all

Kevin Murphy, August 27, 2013, Domain Registries

Taipei City Government’s application for the .taipei new gTLD is still live, despite indications to the contrary from ICANN last week.

On Friday, we reported that there was some confusion about the status of the bid, which was flagged by ICANN as “Eligible for Extended Evaluation” in one place and “Ineligible for Further Review” in another.

We wondered aloud whether Taiwan’s controversial national identity was responsible for the application failing due to lack of governmental support.

But an ICANN spokesperson called last night to confirm that the “Eligible” status is the correct one. The ICANN web site has been corrected accordingly.

What this means is that .taipei is not rejected yet, but must provide more evidence of government support if it wants to pass Extended Evaluation and eventually get delegated.

The question remains, however: which government are we talking about here? If it’s the People’s Republic of China, which claims Taiwan as a province, Taipei may still face problems.

CNNIC hit by “largest ever” denial of service attack

Kevin Murphy, August 26, 2013, Domain Registries

Chinese ccTLD operator CNNIC suffered up to half a day of degraded performance and intermittent accessibility yesterday, after being hit by what it called its “largest ever” denial of service attack.

CNNIC is one of ICANN’s three Emergency Back-End Registry Operators, contracted to take over the running of any new gTLD registries that fail. It’s also the named back-end for seven new gTLD applications.

According to an announcement on its web site, as well as local reports and tips to DI, the first wave of DDoS hit it at about midnight yesterday. A second wave followed up at 4am local time and lasted up to six hours.

According to a tipster, all five of .cn’s name servers were inaccessible in China during the attack.

Local reports (translated) say that many Chinese web sites were also inaccessible to many users, but the full scale of the problem doesn’t seem to be clear yet.

China’s .cn is the fourth-largest ccTLD, with close to 10 million domains under management.

Failures mount up as ICANN releases penultimate week of IE results

Kevin Murphy, August 23, 2013, Domain Registries

Eight new gTLD applications flunked Initial Evaluation this week, according to ICANN’s just-released results.

One of them, the Taipei City Government’s bid for .taipei, has been flagged as “Ineligible for Further Review” — the only application to receive such a status to date — suggesting it is fully dead.

But the full IE report delivered by ICANN says .taipei is actually “Eligible for Extended Evaluation”. It’s not clear right now which of these statuses is the correct one.

Its IE report says “the required documentation of support or non-objection was either not provided or did not meet the criteria” for Taipei’s bid to pass the Geographic Names Review.

While the city government seems to be the applicant, city bids also require national government support, which could be problematic given that the People’s Republic of China regards Taiwan as a province and the United Nations does not officially recognize it as a nation.

Also failing to receive a passing score this week was one of three bidders for the hotly contested gTLD .eco.

Planet Dot Eco failed on both its financial and technical questions, one of the first two applicants to suffer this double whammy. The other was Metaregistrar, which has just found out its app for .frl has failed on both counts.

The clothing retailer Express, noted for its failed Legal Rights Objection against Donuts, also failed its technical evaluation.

Express had a Verisign back-end, while Planet Dot Eco is using ARI Registry Services. Metaregistrar did not specify a third-party back-end provider in its application.

.olayan became the third application from the Saudi conglomerate Olayan Investments to fail because it did not provide its financial statements as required by the Applicant Guidebook.

.place, an application by 1589757 Alberta Ltd (‘DotPlace’) also failed to provide financial statements, as did the dot-brands .shaw, .alcon and .rexroth.

These applications received passing scores this week:

.mail .tech .kpn .play .weatherchannel .crown .aeg .statoil .app .cloud .honeywell .cruises .vig .netaporter .juegos .aramco .lamborghini .soccer .ping .surf .lol .gallo .parts .flowers .gree .webs .netflix .science .school .inc .rio .bbt .mutual .auspost .best .men .symantec .med .doctor .deals .insure .citadel .care .barcelona .racing .feedback .amfam .design .save .nhk .productions .forum .finish .spot .hitachi .web .dish .vistaprint .art .maison .properties .nissay .book .tiffany .haus .skin .hockey .phone .allfinanz .finance .通用电气公司 .手表 .電訊盈科 .珠宝 .ارامكو .hisamitsu .intuit .orientexpress .gecompany .team .church .panasonic .onyourside .ski

With only 141 applications left in evaluation, there’s only one week officially left on the IE timetable, though I expect ICANN will spend some time mopping up the stragglers afterwards.

There are 23 applications eligible for extended evaluation.