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Did Michael Dell just back ICANN’s DNS-CERT?

Kevin Murphy, May 5, 2010, Domain Policy

Michael Dell may have just backed ICANN’s call for a global DNS Computer Emergency Response Center, in a speech at a security conference.

Techworld is reporting that Dell and/or his CIO, Jim Stikeleather, referred to ICANN’s role in security during an address at the EastWest Institute Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit.

It’s not entirely clear whether the following quote is attributable to Stikeleather or Dell himself; my guess is Stikeleather:

ICANN manages the assignment of domain names and IP addresses, headquartered in California, is heavily US centric. There is a need to have more global participation on domain management as well as the future planning and next generation infrastructure needed to address the changes that will affect the Internet usage in years to come.

On the surface, it looks like a criticism of ICANN, but it could quite easily be interpreted as backing ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom’s recent call for the establishment of a global DNS-CERT to coordinate threats to the domain name system.

The quote immediately preceding it in the Techworld article is starkly reminiscent of Hot Rod’s controversial comments at the Governmental Advisory Committee at the Nairobi meeting in March.

“There is a preponderance of evidence that indicates cybercriminals could inflict major outages to portions of our critical infrastructure with minimal effort,” Jim Stikeleather reportedly said.

He was speaking at a session entitled “How do we build international cybersecurity consensus?”, which is a question Beckstrom has been asking in relation to the DNS-CERT idea.

A public comment forum on the DNS-CERT business case ICANN had presented ended a couple of weeks ago.

If I were to go out on a limb, I would say that a rough consensus emerged that such an entity was probably a good idea, and that ICANN could play a role, but that other bodies, such as DNS-OARC, might do a better job of coordinating it.

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The internet is polyglot as full IDNs go live

Click this: http://وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر/

It’s the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, owner of one of the world’s first fully non-ASCII internet domain names.

If you hover over the link, you might see the Punycode translation appear in your browser’s bottom bar, even though the href itself is in Arabic script.

Thanks to ICANN, from today the Latin script no longer has a stranglehold on the domain name system.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell you what the three newly created internationalized domain name ccTLDs are, because none of the software on my machine wants to let me use them in a sentence without switching my cursor to right-to-left editing mid-way through the word or changing the characters entirely, and after ten minutes of beating my head against the keyboard I gave up.

Anyway, the new domains represent Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

They were all recently approved by ICANN as part of its “fast-track” IDN ccTLD process, which promises to give countries the equivalent of their ASCII ccTLD in their native script.

After 25 years, the English language no longer has exclusive rights on the DNS. Not what I’d call a “fast” track, but we got there eventually.

ICANN has more here.

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SnapNames lawsuit: “halvarez” was chasing $1.5 million bonus

Howard Nelson Brady, the former SnapNames VP and alleged shill-bidder known as “halvarez”, was chasing a $1.5 million performance-related bonus, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.

SnapNames and its parent, Oversee.net, have sued Brady for $33 million, claiming he used the pseudonym “Hank Alvarez” and his privileged access to SnapNames’ auction platform to artificially inflate the sale prices of auctioned domain names.

According to the complaint, Brady started his alleged shill-bidding in order to boost SnapNames’ revenues and boost his potential “earn-out” from the June 2007 acquisition of SnapNames by Oversee.

“The purchase of the SnapNames business was based almost entirely on projections extrapolated from past revenues of SnapNames, which had been artificially inflated by Defendant Brady’s shill-bidding,” the complaint says.

Oversee further claims that, following the acquisition, Brady set about embezzling money from the company by buying domains using his “halvarez” account and then refunding himself some of the purchase price.

The company alleges he made $175,000 that way, before suspicious activity was noticed on his account.

“Hank Alvarez” had a mail drop, a Paypal account, and sometimes sent emails to Brady, which were then forwarded to other members of staff, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit is seeking a mountain of cash. Clearly, Oversee and SnapNames are not pulling any punches when it comes to attempting to restore their reputation.

The bulk of the $33 million is made up of punitive damages, but Oversee also wants Brady’s entire salary and other compensation for the period while the alleged activities were taking place.

You can read the complaint in PDF format here.

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Bido going, going, gone

Kevin Murphy, May 4, 2010, Domain Sales

Budget domain name auction house Bido has said it will close its doors tomorrow.

“Bido is ceasing operation as of May 5, 2010. All transactions and accounts will be gracefully finalized and closed,” the company tweeted.

The FAQ on the company’s web site carries the same message.

There’s no word yet on why it’s closing down, but my bet would be it is a cashflow issue.

COO Jarred Cohen just emailed to say that “The reason is nothing beyond obvious, the volume wasn’t sufficient to warrant operation.”

Bido raised its minimum price from $28 to $38 a few days ago, suggesting that it wasn’t really happy with its revenue performance.

According to Bido sales I’ve been looking at recently, not much more than $50,000 a month was passing through its service.

Clearly Bido’s cut wasn’t enough to profitably sustain the company.

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Second-tier TLDs gain aftermarket traction

Kevin Murphy, May 4, 2010, Domain Sales

The average aftermarket selling price of domain names in second-tier TLDs is creeping up, according to the latest numbers from Sedo.

Sedo’s latest quarterly sales review shows that namespaces such as .biz, .info and .org are selling for far better money than they were a year ago.

In fact, the median selling price of .biz, .org, and .net domains is now higher than that of .com.

The price of .biz names, which only accounted for 1% of overall sales, has almost doubled in the last four quarters, up 97% at $537.

The .info namespace fared almost as well, recording a median price of $418, up 91% on the $219 recorded in the second quarter of 2009.

The long-established .org has also appreciated over the last 12 months. Its median price rose 45% to $550.

While there’s no doubt that .com is still where the high-end money is, the median price for a .com was only $510, a 24% increase over the same period.

Sedo has started reporting median prices because big one-off sales can have an impact on the mean averages it also reports.

Its full Q1 Domain Market Study report can be downloaded here.

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