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

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Explosion in New TLDs

There has been an explosion of new top-level domains in the past year.

In 2013-2014, over 600 new TLDs were approved, and the pace has continued in 2015. In early 2015, the count of valid TLDs was 795 (including the country codes), and by mid-August, the count was over 1000. As the sheer number of new neighborhoods on the web has skyrocketed, so have the opportunities for attackers.

For the sake of comparison, back in its early days, the web was limited to six normal TLDs and roughly 100 "country code" TLDs. This continued for over a decade, with a few additional TLDs being added in 1998, 2001, 2005 – some of which are likely familiar to many users (.info, .biz, .mobi, .name, .pro), and some less familiar (.aero, .asia, .cat, .coop, .int, .jobs, .museum, .tel, .travel, .post). The infamous ".xxx" was added in 2011.

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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