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Moniker gets a new CEO

Kevin Murphy, February 21, 2014, Domain Registrars

KeyDrive has appointed Bonnie Wittenburg, Key-System USA executive vice president, as the new CEO of sister registrar Moniker.

She replaces Craig Snyder, who was CEO of Moniker and SnapNames and remains CEO of SnapNames. Wittenburg keeps her EVP roles at Key-Systems.

“Through her expanded role she will drive cooperation and develop a synergistic relationship between the KeyDrive members,” the company said in a statement.

The KeyDrive stable also includes Key-Systems, NameDrive and KS Registry.

Wittenberg is a 15-year veteran of the domain name industry, with previous stints at Network Solutions and Iron Mountain.

Key-Systems to take a loss on .hiv domains

Key-Systems said yesterday that it plans to make .hiv domain names available at “below net cost price”, in solidarity with would-be new gTLD registry dotHIV.

The registrar said it will also offer free .hiv names at launch to organizations involving in fighting the virus via its Moniker and domaindiscount24.com retail registrars.

dotHIV, also a German company, plans to donate all of its profits to HIV/AIDs charities.

Its application is uncontested and has already passed Initial Evaluation, but is the target of Governmental Advisory Committee advice, which has put its bid on hold.

Despite this uncertainty, Key-Systems said it expects the Sunrise phase for .hiv to start in December.

KSRegistry takes over .gd but questions remain about two other hijacked ccTLDs

KSRegistry has been appointed the new registry operator for Grenada’s ccTLD after bad management at the previous operator led to the whole TLD being hijacked.

But the fate of two other hijacked ccTLDs — .tc and .vg — appears to be less certain, with significant confusion over who’s in charge at both.

One of them, at least, may still be “hijacked”.

But KSRegistry, part of the KeyDrive group, said today that it took over the technical management of .gd from AdamsNames (Amaryllis Investments Ltd) on May 1.

While a press release describes the change as a “redelegation” by ICANN’s IANA function, in fact it’s just a change of technical contact in the IANA database.

Grenada’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission remains the official, delegated manager of the TLD.

The hasty switch-over follows the alleged wholesale hijacking of the ccTLD by a disgruntled former employee of AdamsNames, who temporarily relocated it from the UK to Turkey.

The TLD, along with .tc and .vg, went AWOL in March after one Ertan Ulutas apparently took over the domain AdamsNames.net, the web site which was used by registrants to manage their names.

For a couple of weeks the site remained in the hands of the alleged hijacker, and all the while the AdamsNames.net site presented itself as the official registry manager.

KSRegistry was at the time the appointed back-end provider, appointed last year, for AdamsNames.

Due to the period of confusion, KSRegistry said today that the integrity of registration data in .gd may have been compromised, and that the zone will be “frozen” until May 21.

KSRegistry said in a statement:

While the .GD zone is frozen, no registrations, modifications, transfers, deletions or renewals can be made until the zone file has been fully reviewed and confirmed as valid and complete. Expired domains which are still in the zone can explicit be set to be either deleted or renewed prior to the reactivation of automated domain deletion function on May 21. Contact and nameserver updates can be done by each registrar for the domain names in its portfolio once the ServerUpdateProhibited status is removed. The NTRC and the KSregistry GmbH intend to resolve the discrepancies in the registration data with the .GD accredited registrars until May 21, 2013.

Getting rid of AdamsNames seems like a smart move by Grenada.

While AdamsNames has not been accused of any wrongdoing, allowing its TLDs to get hijacked, putting many thousands of domains at risk, certainly smacks of incompetence.

And the current status of .tc and .vg is unclear enough that I’d advise extreme caution when doing business with either TLD until further notice.

According to IANA records, .vg (British Virgin Islands) still has AdamsNames listed as the technical manager, but there have been significant, dodgy-looking changes at .tc recently.

Notably, references to AdamsNames as technical contact and official registration site for the ccTLD have been removed and replaced with those for a couple of new companies.

TLD AS (based in Turkey) and Meridian TLD (based in the British Virgin Islands) have been named as technical contact and registration site for .tc respectively.

Also, a name server for .tc that was operated by RIPE (a respectable organization), was also removed and replaced with one from zone.tc, a domain controlled by Meridian TLD, in early April.

All the name servers for .tc, and all but one of the name servers for .vg, are now on domains controlled by Meridian.

On the face of it, it looks almost legit. Meridian’s web site even states that its representatives were at the ICANN meeting in Beijing a month ago.

But according to AdamsNames, Meridian is actually run by Ulutas (the alleged hijacker) and at least two other people, and the two other people showed up in Beijing pretending to represent AdamsNames.

AdamsNames said on its web site:

We have to state frank and clear that neither Ayse Ergen nor her companion are authorised to represent or to act on behalf of AdamsNames Limited. By posing as employees of AdamsNames, the group of criminals around Ertan Ulutas, newly also known as “Meridian TLD Corp.”, continues its efforts to hijack the business of AdamsNames (run since 1999) by underhand means.

ICANN/IANA, according to AdamsNames, was aware of its complaints about Meridian from late March, which was before it made the changes that gave Meridian effective control over .tc.

Right now, it looks disturbingly like the alleged “hijacker” has actually managed to not only take over operations for at least one entire ccTLD but also to make it official.

Confusion reigns over three “hijacked” ccTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 12, 2013, Domain Registries

Control over three ccTLDs is currently up in the air due to the alleged hijacking of one of the registry operator’s domain names.

The TLDs for the Turks and Caicos Islands (.tc), the British Virgin Islands (.vg) and Grenada (.gd) are all nominally managed by a UK-based company called AdamsNames.

Last October, AdamsNames outsourced the back-end technical functions of the registry to KSRegistry, the registry sister company to German registrar Key-Systems.

But this week, it’s difficult to say who’s in charge any more.

KSRegistry, in an official statement, said yesterday that an unspecified “third party” had managed to take over the registry’s domain name, AdamsNames.net, and was operating a “shadow registry” there.

Today, the KSregistry GmbH, a hundred percent subsidiary of the Key-Systems GmbH, has learned that a third party has executed a transfer of the domain name adamsnames.net and now operates a shadow registry under this domain. According to the CEO of AdamsNames Ltd., Mr. Carsten Pauli, this transfer was not authorized by the registry operator.

Whois records show that the domain was transferred away from Key-Systems to Hexonet last week, and that the administrative contact changed from an address in London to an address in Istanbul.

The name on the records was Ertan Ulutas before and after the transfer.

So has Ulutas, by taking control over what is in effect the official registry web site, hijacked all three registries?

Statements appearing on AdamsNames.net this week tell a different story.

Whoever’s in control of the domain — presumably Ulutas — claims that the outfit is “currently experiencing a high level Corporate hijack from the minority shareholder Carsten Pauli and Key Systems GmbH.”

A statement today reads:

As you are all aware AdamsNames Ltd has been run by us for a while. Key Systems is our former Registry Backend provider. We recently noticed, the adamsnames.com domain, for which Key Systems was the Registrar had been illegally transferred into another account without any notice or authorisation from us.

Upon realising this we transferred our other gTLD domains to another Registrar. Due to this matter we lost trust in Key Systems GmbH and decided to run it ourselves. Please be aware that our Registry is fully operational.

All domains can be registered, renewed and updated as usual. We could not trust a company with three ccTLD’s if we could not trust them with one domain!

Whois records show that Pauli recently became the owner of AdamsNames.com. Ulutas was the previous owner. The domain is registered via Key-Systems.

KSRegistry, which has declined to comment beyond its prepared statement yesterday, said:

KSregistry GmbH still provides the technical back-end services for the ccTLDs .TC, .GD and .VG authorized by AdamsNames Ltd., but this is currently hampered by the actions of the third party.

In order to not endanger the integrity of the zone after addressing the issues, the Key-Systems GmbH as registrar has decided to not permit current modifications to domains under .TC, .GD and .VG. The resolution and renewal of the domains are not affected.

What seems to be happening here is that Pauli and Ulutas have had some kind of dispute, and that as a result the registrants and the reputation of three countries’ ccTLDs have been harmed.

Very amateurish.

UPDATE: Key-Systems founder and CEO Alexander Siffrin has issued the following updated statement in response to the latest claims on Adamsnames.net:

Key-Systems GmbH has at no time hijacked a domain name from Adamsnames Ltd. It has in the incident referred to by the party currently claiming to represent Adamsnames acted upon a request of the director of Adamsnames Ltd. who is also the signatory of the agreement outsourcing the technical backend of the registry to KSregistry GmbH.

On the other hand the transfer of the domain name adamsnames.net and with that the ability to change the management of the zone has to our knowledge been initiated without permission of Adamsnames Ltd.

It is noteworthy that at this time the domain names listed by the current technical operator do not list Adamsnames Ltd. as registrant:

ADAMSNAMES.NET
adamsnames.org
adamsnames.eu

You may draw your own conclusions.

RRPproxy and Hexonet offering new gTLD pre-regs

Kevin Murphy, October 2, 2012, Domain Registrars

Two reseller-oriented registrars this week have enabled their resellers to start taking new gTLD pre-registrations.

Key-Systems said its RRPproxy API and web interface now support pre-regs for hundreds of applied-for gTLDs, noting that the transactions are “an expression of interest without any commitment”.

The company seems to have filtered out the obvious dot-brands, but it’s still offering some gTLDs — such as .antivirus and .lifeinsurance — whose applicants are planning single-registrant models.

Separately today, Hexonet launched its Expressions Of Interest offering to enable its resellers to take “non-binding requests” for domains in possible forthcoming gTLDs.

Opinions are mixed about whether these kinds of services are good for the industry’s reputation. There’s no guarantee that these gTLDs will launch, or whether these registrars will qualify to sell them.