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FourSquare.com expires, reporter seeks padding

Kevin Murphy, March 26, 2010, Gossip

Visitors to one of the web’s hottest geo apps had a bit of a surprise today when instead of FourSquare.com’s normal site they found a Go Daddy parking page.

It’s the usual problem — the company forgot to renew its registration.

That’s pretty much all there is to say about the story, unless you’re London daily newspaper Metro, which decided to pad the piece with a big chunk of lorem ispum:

Metro screenshot

It’s free for a reason.

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The most confusing new gTLDs (allegedly)

Kevin Murphy, March 26, 2010, Domain Registries

I don’t know how I missed it until today, but I’ve discovered ICANN has a web-based tool that will be used to determine whether new gTLDs could be confused with existing strings.

The Sword Group algorithm compares applied-for strings with a list of existing TLDs and reserved words such as “icann” and “ripe”.

It looks for “visual similarity”, which means not only common sequences of characters but also the pixel-by-pixel similarities of each character.

Numerical scores are assigned. Any match scoring below 30 is not considered worthy of reporting.

As an experiment, I ran each of the strings on newTLDs.tv’s list of publicly announced TLD hopefuls through the available “pre-production” algorithm.

Here are my findings.

1. The algorithm is pretty much worthless. …continue reading

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Nominet bill set for UK law

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2010, Domain Registries

The UK government is set to pass a controversial law that will create powers to regulate domain names more or less arbitrarily and even seize control of the .uk registry.

The Digital Economy Bill is best known for its Draconian anti-piracy provisions, but it also gives the relevant Secretary of State the power to replace Nominet as the .uk registry manager.

To oust Nominet, the secretary of state would have to decide that certain fairly broad criteria had been met. Quoting from the bill’s explanatory notes:

The registry itself, its end-users (that is, owners of or applicants for domain names) or registrars (that is, agents of end-users) have been engaging in practices prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State which are unfair or which involve the misuse of internet domain names; or

The registry’s arrangements for dealing with complaints in connection with domain names do not comply with requirements prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State.

The practices in question are expected to include: cybersquatting, drop-catching, “pressure sales tactics”, phishing, distributing malware, spamming or “intentionally misleading the public into believing there is a connection between the domain name owner and other organisations”.

Basically, the daily background noise of the internet. …continue reading

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NeuStar files for patent on DNSSEC hack

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2010, Domain Tech

NeuStar has applied for a US patent on a stop-gap technology for authenticating DNS queries without the need for DNSSEC.

The application, published today, describes a system of securing the DNS connection between authoritative name servers and recursive servers belonging to ISPs.

It appears to cover the technology underlying Cache Defender, a service it started offering via its UltraDNS brand last July.

It was created to prevent the kind of man-in-the-middle attacks permitted by the 2008 Kaminsky exploit, which let attackers poison recursive caches, redirecting users to phoney web sites.

The DNSSEC standard calls for DNS traffic to be digitally signed and was designed to significantly mitigate this kind of attack, but it has yet to be widely deployed.

Some ccTLDs are already signed, but gTLD users will have to wait until at least this summer. The .org zone will be signed in June and ICANN will sign the root in July but .com will not be signed until next year.

While Kaminsky’s vulnerability has been broadly patched, brute-force attacks are still possible, according an ISP’s experience cited in the patent filing.

“The patch that experts previously believed would provide enough time to get DNSSEC deployed literally provided the industry just a few extra weeks,” it reads.

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Burberry files UDRP on Engrish squatter

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2010, Gossip

Burberry, the once-respectable fashion house more commonly associated nowadays with British chavs, has filed a UDRP complaint against a webmaster with an hilarious grasp of English.

Two claims were made against burberryscarfshop.com and burberryscarfstore.com. One site appears to be aimed at Brits, the other Americans, although you’d never know it from the language.

The American site claims: “To provide the superior scarves and service is our common logos and incessant pursue.”

From the British site:

Burberryscarfshop.com of the opinion that no people should go without beautiful scarf.

It is very important and exciting for every people to choose the perfect scarf in the preparation of his happy day!

I wonder which way this decision is going to go…

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