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Verisign’s IDN gTLDs “could increase phishing” say Asian registries

Kevin Murphy, November 30, 2012, Domain Policy

It’s a bad day for Verisign.

As the company pins its growth hopes partially on its applications for IDN gTLDs — in the wake of losing its price-raising powers over .com — ccTLD registries from Asia-Pacific have raised serious concerns about its bids.

The Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association says that many of its members reckon the proposed IDN transliterations of .com “could give rise to an increased risk of phishing and other malicious abuses”.

Verisign has applied for a dozen transliterations of .com and .net in scripts such as Hebrew, Cyrillic and Arabic. The strings themselves are meaningless, but they sound like “com” and “net”.

It’s for this reason that APTLD reckons they could cause problems. In an October 1 letter to ICANN, published today, the organization said:

In addition to the potential for user confusion, some [Working Group] members also noted that the creation of transliterated TLDs, without the development of adequate registration and eligibility polices and procedures, could give rise to an increased risk of phishing and other malicious abuses of the new spaces.

The WG notes that this potential problem manifests itself at the second level, and is not unique to tranlisterated TLDs, but would argue that the very nature of these TLDs, and their close similarity to existing TLDs, makes them particularly high-risk targets.

The letter does not single out Verisign, and does not represent a consensus APTLD view.

There are also worries among APTLD members about the application for .thai in Latin script, which could clash with Thailand’s IDN ccTLD, and various translations of “.site”.

APTLD notes that the new gTLD evaluation process only contains checks for visual similarity between TLDs.

The only way to block an application based on phonetic confusion is to file a String Confusion Objection, but the only entity eligible to object to Verisign’s applications is Verisign itself.

Worldwide domains up to 240 million

Kevin Murphy, October 2, 2012, Domain Registries

There are now more than 240 million registered domain names on the internet, according to Verisign.

Its latest Domain Name Industry Brief reports that a net of 7.3 million names were added across all TLDs in the second quarter, a 3.1% sequential increase, up 11.9% on Q2 2011.

Verisign’s own .com and .net hit 118.5 million domains by the end of June, up 1.6% sequentially and 7.8% year-over-year. Renewals were at 72.9%, down from 73.9% in Q1.

The company reported that new .com and .net registrations in the period totaled 8.4 million.

Verisign reveals “dark” .com domains

Verisign has started publishing the daily count of .com and .net domain names that are registered but do not work.

On a new page on its site, the company is promising to break out how many domains are registered but do not currently show up in the zone files for its two main gTLDs.

These are sometimes referred to as “dark” domains.

As of yesterday, the number of registered and active .com domains stands at 103,960,994, and there are 145,980 more (about 0.14% of the total) that are registered but do not currently have DNS.

For .net, the numbers stand at 14,750,674 and 32,440 (0.22%).

Verisign CEO Jim Bidzos told analysts last night that the data is being released to “increase transparency” into the company’s performance.

Many tools available for tracking registration numbers in TLDs are skewed slightly by the fact that they rely on publicly available zone file data, which does not count dark domains.

Registry reports containing more accurate data are released monthly by ICANN, but they’re always three months old.

Verisign selected for 220 new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, April 26, 2012, Domain Registries

Verisign is the appointed back-end registry operator for 220 new generic top-level domain applications, according to the company.

Verisign itself has applied to ICANN for 14 new gTLDs, 12 of which are transliterations — ie, internationalized domain names — of .com and .net.

During its first-quarter 2012 earnings conference call, ongoing right now, CEO Jim Bidzos disclosed the numbers, saying:

VeriSign applied directly for 14 new gTLDs. Twelve of these 14 are transliterations of .com and .net. Also, applicants for approximately 220 new gTLDs selected Verisign to provide back-end registry services.

Many of these are dot-brands, Bidzos said.

Neustar, which also reported earnings yesterday, did not disclose how many applications it is involved in, other than to say that it has not applied for any as a front-end operator.

Thick .com Whois policy delayed

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN’s GNSO Council has deferred a decision on whether Verisign should have to thicken up the Whois database for .com and its other gTLDs.

A motion to begin an official Policy Development Process on thick Whois was kicked down the road by councilors this afternoon at the request of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency.

It will now be discussed at the Council’s face-to-face meeting in Costa Rica in March. But there were also calls from registries to delay a decision for up to a year, calling the PDP a “distraction”.

Verisign’s .com registry contract and the standard Registrar Accreditation Agreement are currently being renegotiated by ICANN, both of which could address Whois in some way.

Today, all contracted gTLD registries have to operate a thick Whois, except Verisign with its .com, .net, .jobs, etc, where the registrars manage the bulk of the Whois data.