The Web's Shadiest Neighborhoods: What You Need to Know

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Lax Policies

Lax policies in some managing organizations breed shady neighborhoods.

The dramatic rise in new TLDs can be attributed to a new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) initiative launched by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 2012. ICANN's frequently asked questions document for gTLDs outlines the original goal for the initiative:

One of ICANN's key commitments is to promote competition in the domain name market while ensuring Internet security and stability. New generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) help achieve that commitment by paving the way for increased consumer choice by facilitating competition among registry service providers. Soon entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and communities around the world will be able to apply to operate a Top-Level Domain registry of their own choosing.

Each new TLD is under the control of an organization that has to pay a $185,000 evaluation fee to ICANN and also has to prove that it has the infrastructure and expertise to run a new TLD registry.

Ideally, all of these new registries (and all of the country code registries) would exercise the same level of caution in who they allow to purchase domains in their new space – but many do not, and the bad guys know where to shop.

Much like in the streets of New York City in "Ghostbusters," suspicious activity is happening in varying degrees all over the web. The relative risk of visiting a website in a "shady" neighborhood can vary dramatically depending on who is managing the "residents" there.

What many users may not realize is that the letters following the "." in a website address represent a top-level domain (TLD) – essentially a "neighborhood" of addresses – maintained by a specific company or group. Ideally, TLDs would all be run by security-conscious operators who diligently review new domain name applications, and reject those that don't meet a stringent set of criteria.

Unfortunately, the reality for many of these new neighborhoods is that they go unpoliced, like Slimer wreaking havoc on the 12th floor of the Sedgewick Hotel. To avoid getting slimed, businesses and consumers need guidance to understand how safe, or how shady, these new TLDs may be considered for web security purposes.

Courtesy of Blue Coat research, let's take a closer look at the web's shadiest neighborhoods.


Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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