ICANN Data Breach Stokes Domain Name Concerns

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A recent security breach at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers shows that the controversial domain expansion program is moving forward too quickly, the Association of National Advertisers says.

"It's another warning signal to go slower, and make sure you have worked out all the glitches before you roll out a new system," says Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the marketing group.

ICANN said last week that it temporarily stopped accepting applications for new domain names, due to a data breach that allowed some applicants to see others' information. The organization says it will resume accepting applications when it "can confirm that the problem has been resolved."

The Association of National Advertisers says the glitch highlights its concern that ICANN won't be able to adequately police the new domain names. The result could be a new wave of cybersquatting and phishing sites, Jaffe warns.

In January, ICANN embarked on a program to allow any word -- including brand names -- to serve as so-called "generic top-level domains." A top-level domain is the letters to the right of the last dot in the URL, like “.com” or “.edu.” Currently, there are only 22 generic top-level domains.

But that number could balloon dramatically once ICANN begins assigning new top-level domains. Between Jan. 12 and March 25, the group received applications for 839 top-level domain names.

It's not yet known how many of those applications will be approved, but any sizable increase could result in imposter sites -- including ones run by counterfeiters or scammers that trick people into disclosing financial information, Jaffe warns.

"People have a lot of faith in the Internet right now," he says. "But if that gets undermined, there could be a very adverse effect."

ICANN didn't respond to Online Media Daily's request for comment. But the organization has said in the past that it has protections in place to prevent cybersquatting or trademark infringement, as well as a procedure to resolve disputes about trademark. In addition, acquiring a new top-level domain will cost at least $185,00 -- which some say is pricey enough to discourage fraud.

The ANA says that ICANN also should create a "do not sell" registry that will allow companies to prevent their brand name from being used as a domain by anyone else.


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1 comment about "ICANN Data Breach Stokes Domain Name Concerns ".
  1. Kate Hutchinson from EMC , April 18, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
    I disagree with Jaffe's comments. Instead of hiding the process, ICANN is admitting that there was a problem and is doing everything to fix it, and has alerted everyone involved, communicating the issues. The whole process is complex and ICANN is doing its best to be transparent, something very difficult to do for a non-profit authority with international ties.