News and Updates

On Privacy and Information

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2019-03-12 19:13

Rights, privacy, and public information as it relates to Whois.

As the internet community debates Whois and privacy this week in Kobe, Japan, I’d like to revisit my thoughts on the subject.

I am not in favor of default Whois privacy for domain names. Some of this is selfish; I often use Whois to track down who is buying and selling domain names, to figure out when a domain was stolen, to verify ownership, to check the veracity of legal claims, and to hunt down fraud. Not having public Whois makes this much harder for me.

But I also challenge the notion that people have a human right to privacy and I also believe that what is commonly called privacy is actually an issue of public information.

First, on human rights. Human rights are fictitious; they are things that we as humans have created, much like the notion of corporations. This can be a good thing, no doubt.

But the right to privacy is really only something that governments define and manage. And there’s a difference between privacy and information.

The governments that have authority over me enforce certain rights. You don’t have a right to enter my property to look in my bedroom.

If I want to do certain things, such as buy a house or car, I have to give some of my information to the public. Anyone can go to my county’s website and get the details of my house and property tax bill. If I want to set up a business I also have to give information.

If I don’t want this information to be public, I can take affirmative action. I can buy my house through a corporation, for example.

There are public benefits to open information, which is really what we’re talking about here. This isn’t about privacy–it’s about information.

One key benefit to open information is that it helps cut down on graft.

Where should domain names fall on this spectrum? Should my information be public if I register a domain name?

There are good arguments on both sides of this question. It’s fair to argue that public Whois information leads to spam and that is a reason to keep it private. That’s a reasonable argument and I respect it.

It’s also fair to argue that public Whois information helps security researchers, journalists and people transacting domain names.

What I don’t find a reasonable argument is that publishing Whois information violates someone’s right to privacy.

Much like other transactions we make that result in public data, there is both a public benefit to publishing such data and a way to prevent your personal information from becoming public when you register a domain name. Just add Whois privacy. Many registrars offer it for free.


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Categories: News and Updates

The Pace of Domain Growth Has Slowed Considerably, Reports CENTR

Domain industry news - Tue, 2019-03-12 19:01

The global Top-Level Domain market is currently estimated at 348 million domains across all recorded TLDs. Although the overall domain count has continued to grow in all regions and types, the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries (CENTR) reports that the pace of growth has slowed considerably. "As of January 2019, it has seen its lowest recorded year-on-year rate of 3.7%."

"While domain count and growth are not the only measurement of market health, they can provide an indication of general uptake and interest in domain names. At present, the indication is a continued slow-down. This may be explained by multiple factors, such as a market saturation, alter- native online presence choices (e.g. social media) or even a concentra- tion of market share to fewer TLDs."

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How to Track Online Malevolent Identities in the Act

Domain industry news - Tue, 2019-03-12 17:52

Want to be a cybersleuth and track down hackers?

It may sound ambitious considering that malevolent entities are extremely clever, and tracing them requires certain skills that may not be easy to build for the typical computer user.

But then again, the best defense is offense. And learning the basics of sniffing out cybercriminals may not only be necessary nowadays, it has become essential for survival on the Web. So where can you begin?

Place Honeypots

Hackers take great care to cover their tracks. So, it's important to catch them with their hand in the cookie jar. You can do so by setting up a bait — called a honeypot — to lure them out. It can take the form of a spammable domain or an easily hackable virtual machine which can appear as legitimate targets.

Once attacked, honeypots help you observe what intruders do to the system, know the tricks that they employ to infect devices, and subsequently find ways to counter them. Such forensic evidence enables law enforcers to track unsolicited access and then locate and catch perpetrators.

Reverse-Engineering Malware

Let's say that despite all the precautions, malware still succeeded in infiltrating your company's system. Instead of losing sleep, you can use the infection to understand how the malicious program operates and what it's been engineered to do, such as what vulnerabilities it's been designed to exploit.

This process is called reverse engineering. It involves disassembling the program to be able to analyze and retrieve valuable information on how it is used or when it was created. It is extremely helpful in finding substantial evidence such as encryption keys or other digital footprints that can lead investigators to the cybercriminals.

Leverage WHOIS Information

When a complaint is received over a dangerous website, the first step in the investigation is to identify the operator of the suspect domain.

This can be done by querying the domain name registry where the site has been registered. A whois database download service, for example, enables users to retrieve the WHOIS data that contains the name, location, and contact details of domain registrants. With this information in hand, security teams can report the matter to law enforcement agents who can then track down malicious operators and apprehend them on the spot.

Inspect Files' Metadata

Once in possession of files and devices from a suspicious entity, you can analyze the evidence that is saved in them and discover crucial details that can be followed back to the source.

Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files, for example, contain relevant information, called metadata, that can blow a hacker's cover. They include the name of the person that created the file, the organization, the computer, and the local hard drive or network server where the document was saved.

It is also important to analyze the grammar used in comments that are embedded in the software code. Socio-cultural references, nicknames, language, and even the use of emojis — all can reveal clues on the nationalities of the criminals or their geographical location.

Go On with Tracerouting

One of the best ways to catch perpetrators is by identifying their IP addresses. However, they usually hide these IPs by spoofing or by bouncing communications from different locations. Luckily, no matter how shrewd and clever these individuals may be, malicious addresses can still be identified through an approach called tracerouting.

The technique works by showing the hostnames of all the devices within the range of your computer and a target machine. More often than not, the last machine's hostname address belongs to the hacker's Internet Service Provider. With the ISP known, investigators can then pinpoint the geographical location and the areas where the culprit is probably situated.

* * *

Every time you venture online, you're exposed to malevolent entities that can harm your system and disrupt business operations. Knowing how to trace the source of an attack can stop it in its tracks and prevent the intervention from happening again.

Written by Jonathan Zhang, Founder and CEO of Threat Intelligence Platform

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More under: Cybersecurity, Malware, Spam, Whois

Categories: News and Updates

Tim Berners-Lee sighs every time you sell a domain name

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2019-03-12 17:50

WWW inventor discusses the web 30 years later, including his decision to operate it on the DNS.

WWW inventor Time Berners-Lee. Photo from World Wide Web Foundation.

The inventor of the World Wide Web must sigh a lot.

Speaking to The Guardian on the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee said:

Every time I hear that somebody has managed to acquire the [domain] name of their new enterprise for $50,000 (£38,500) instead of $500, I sigh, and feel that money’s not going to a good cause.

Berners-Lee told the Guardian that it’s a minor regret that came from his decision to build on top of the domain name system.

He continued:

You wanted a name for your website, you’d go and ask [American computer scientist] Jon Postel, you know, back in the day, and he would give you a name….

…At the time that seemed like a good idea, but it relied on it being managed benevolently…There are plenty of domain names to go around, but the way people have invested, in buying up domains that they think entrepreneurs or organisations will use – even trying to build AI that would guess what names people will want for their organisations, grabbing the domain name and then selling it to them for a ridiculous amount of money – that’s a breakage.

I’m sure Berners-Lee didn’t foresee this, but I’m also curious how he would have done it differently if he could go back in time. It’s also worth noting that there are many available domain names available across over 1,000 top level domains, so there’s no real shortage of web addresses that are freely available to register.

Berners-Lee also laments the creation of walled gardens such as apps and Facebook. They use the web platform, but web addresses are the key:

“So there’s web technology inside, but what we’re saying is if, from the user’s point of view, there’s no URL, then we’ve lost.”

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Categories: News and Updates

Putting Cyber Threats Into Perspective

Domain industry news - Tue, 2019-03-12 17:37

As society uses more digital technologies we are increasingly also faced with its problems.

Most of us will have some horror stories to tell about using computers, smartphones, and the internet. But this hasn't stopped us from using the technology more and more. I believe that most people would say that their lives would be worse without technology — in developed countries but equally in the developing world, where mobile phones and the internet have revolutionised the lives of hundreds of millions of individual people, resulting in great personal benefits involving, for example, employment, business, education (information) and healthcare.

And, while there are certainly also downsides, with hacks, identity theft, populism, cyberbullying, cybercrime and so on, the positives of ICT still far outweigh the negatives. Yet in recent years cybersecurity has achieved political importance that greatly exceeds its actual threat.

Despite the various and ongoing cyber threats the world seems to function quite well; and, as my colleague Andrew Odlyzko in his recent paper Cyber security is not (very) important argues, there have been many other security threats that are having a far greater impact on us than all the cyber threats combined. Think of the recent tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, epidemics, financial collapse (2008), 9/11 and so on. What about the massive damage done by guns in America or the hundreds of thousands of car casualties around the world every year? We seem to treat that as acceptable collateral damage.

In many of these cases, there is little political will to address the underlying issues like climate change, inequality and oligarchy, environmental degradation, gun control and so on.

Interestingly, many of those disasters do have some predictability and, if we wanted to, we could do much more about them. But that would require far more political attention around those more serious issues, and most politicians shy away from this. Cybersecurity seems to be an easier target.

If we look at history, we see that the collapse of societies has far more to do with those environmental issues than with technology. That is not to say that we should ignore cybersecurity. Of course not. But looking back on the last few decades cybersecurity has followed the same growth patterns as technology, and there is no reason to believe that this is going to change. We seem to be able to manage the cyber threats in the same way we can deal with other social problems such as crimes like theft and robbery, and so there is no overwhelming need to over-emphasise cyber threats.

As Andrew puts it, with all other social imperfections, we will never be able to get absolute cybersecurity. And, yes, there will be technological disasters, but it is unlikely that they will ever be on the scale of all the other disasters that humanity is facing.

So let's put this into perspective; and I would argue let's concentrate on how to address those far more dangerous developments, such as climate change, and how to look at ways ICT technology can assist humanity in finding solutions for this.

Amazingly it is here that government policies are moving backward, with relatively fewer funds being made available for innovation, research and development, education, e-health and so on.

There is also an important psychological element in cybercrime. Cyber breaches are widely reported but we must realise that vote rigging, gerrymandering and vote stacking, carried out in far more traditional ways, have a much greater impact on election outcomes than the influence of cybercrime.

Another example here is that, while many financial databases have been hacked and millions of credit cards have been captured, relatively little damage has been done, as banks have sophisticated ICT systems in place that can detect fraudulent transactions. Yet the financial damage of greedy banks nearly brought economies down in 2008.

Nevertheless, my greatest worry is still the Big Brother effect of cybersurveillance. It has the potential to further undermine our already weakening democratic structures. This has nothing to do with cybersecurity — in fact, cybersecurity can't be used to solve this problem. And, despite the fact that the issue is now being far more seriously investigated by law-makers and regulators, especially in Europe and Australia, the major issue continues to be the lack of political will to address these issues.

The ICT world with all its 'goods and bads' reflects our messy society and it is that same society that has led us to where we are now. And in many cases, our progress has been based on muddling on, with the occasional starburst.

While there are certainly many worrying signs in society today it remains our responsibility not to charge blindly in the same direction as some of our forebears did, which led to the collapse of many previous civilisations. We are now in a far better position to understand what causes those collapses and we are capable of innovation and diversifying to avoid disaster. And we — the people in the ICT industry — are in the privileged position of being able to assist societies by creating the right tools to further prosperity for all.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation

Categories: News and Updates

Naming Tools with Anthony Shore – DNW Podcast #227

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2019-03-12 15:30

Learn about great tools and processes to find names.

Want to seriously up your domain investing game? My guest this week has the tools to help you. Anthony Shore of Operative Words is a product and company namer. On today’s show, he explains the exact tools he uses to come up with great names. This can easily be applied to coming up with great domain names, too.

Also: Executive appointments, a Mormon church rebrand, expensive chocolate and more.

Mentioned in this podcast: NYT Magazine article, research on domains vs. search

This week’s sponsor:

Subscribe via iTunes to listen to the Domain Name Wire podcast on your iPhone or iPad, view on Google Play Music, or click play above or download to begin listening. (Listen to previous podcasts here.)

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Domain Freaks Sighted at ICANN 64 Meeting Currently Underway in Kobe, Japan

DN Journal - Mon, 2019-03-11 20:59
I can see where this headline might cause some concern but there is really nothing to worry about - these are friendly freaks!
Categories: News and Updates

Some Thought on the Paper: Practical Challenge-Response for DNS

Domain industry news - Mon, 2019-03-11 20:22

This post reflects on ideas suggested in the paper: Practical Challenge-Response for DNS, 2018 by Rami Al-Dalky, Michael Rabinovich, and Mark Allman.

Because the speed of DNS is so important to the performance of any connection on the 'net, a lot of thought goes into making DNS servers fast, including optimized software that can respond to queries in milliseconds, and connecting DNS servers to the 'net through high bandwidth links. To set the stage for massive DDoS attacks based in the DNS system, add a third point: DNS responses tend to be much larger than DNS queries. In fact, a careful DNS response can be many times larger than the query.

To use a DNS server as an amplifier in a DDoS attack, then, the attacker sends a query to some number of publicly accessible DNS servers. The source of this query is the address of the system to be attacked. If the DNS query is carefully crafted, the attacker can send small packets that cause a number of DNS servers to send large responses to a single IP address, causing large amounts of traffic to the system under attack.

Carrying DNS over TCP is one way to try to resolve this problem because TCP requires a three-way handshake. When the attacker sends a request with a spoofed source address, the server attempts to build a TCP session with the system which owns the spoofed address, which will fail. A key point: TCP three-way handshake packets are much smaller than most DNS responses, which means the attacker's packet stream is not being amplified (in size) by the DNS server.

DNS over TCP is problematic, however. For instance, many DNS resolvers cannot reach an authoritative DNS server using TCP because of stateful packet filters, network address translators, and other processes that either modify or block TCP sessions in the network. What about DNSSEC? This does not prevent the misuse of a DNS server; it only validates the records contained in the DNS database. DNSSEC just means the attacker can send even larger really secure DNS records towards an unsuspecting system.

Another option is to create a challenge-response system much like the TCP handshake, but embed it in DNS. The most obvious place to embed such a challenge-response system is in CNAME records. Assume a recursive DNS server requests a particular record; an authoritative server can respond with a CNAME record effectively telling the recursive server to ask someone else. When the recursive server sends the second query, presumably to a different server, it includes the response information it has in order to give the second server the context of its request.

To build a challenge-request system, the authoritative server sends back a CNAME telling the recursive server to contact the very same authoritative server. In order to ensure the three-way handshake is effective, the source IP address of the querying recursive DNS server is encoded into the CNAME response. When the authoritative server receives the second query, it can check the source address encoded in the second resolution request against the source of the packet containing the new query. If they do not match, the authoritative server can drop the second request; the three-way handshake failed.

If the source of the original request is spoofed, this causes the victim to receive a CNAME response telling it to ask again for the answer — which the victim will never respond to, because it did not send the original request. Since CNAME responses are small, this tactic removes the amplification the attacker is hoping for.

There is one problem with this solution, however: DNS resolvers are often pooled behind a single anycast address. Consider a resolving DNS server pool with two servers labeled A and B. Server A receives a DNS request from a host and finding it has no cache entry for the destination, recursively sends a request to an authoritative server. The authoritative server, in turn, sends a challenge to the IP address of server A. This address, however, is an anycast address assigned to the entire pool of recursive servers. For whatever reason, the challenge — a CNAME response asking the recursive server to ask at a different location — is directed to B.

If the DNS software is set up correctly, B will respond to the request. However, this response will be sourced from B's IP address, rather than A's. Remember the source of the original query is encoded in the CNAME response from the responding server. Since the address encoded in the follow-on query will not match B's address, the authoritative server will drop the request.

To solve this problem, the authors of this paper suggest a chained response. Rather than dropping the request with an improperly encoded source address, encode the new source address in the packet and send another challenge in the form of a CNAME response. Assuming there are only two servers in the pool, the next query with the encoded list of IP addresses from the CNAME response will necessarily match one of the two available source addresses, and the authoritative server can respond with the correct information.

What if the pool of recursive servers is very large — on the order of hundreds or thousands of servers? While one or two "round trips" in the form of a three-way handshake might not have too much of a performance impact, thousands could be a problem. To resolve this issue, the authors suggest taking advantage of the observation that once the packets being transmitted between the requester and the server are as large as the request itself, any amplification gain an attacker might take advantage of has been erased. Once the CNAME packet grows to the same size as a DNS request by adding source addresses observed in the three-way handshake process, the server should just answer the query. This (generally) reduces the number of round trips down to three or four before the DNS is not going to generate any more data than the attacker could send to the victim directly, and dramatically improves the performance of the scheme.

I was left with one question after reading this paper: there are carefully crafted DNS queries that can cause very large, multipacket responses. These are not mentioned at all in the paper; this seems like an area that would need to be considered and researched more deeply. Overall, however, this seems like it would be an effective system to reduce or eliminate the use of authoritative servers in DDoS reflection attacks.

Written by Russ White, Network Architect at LinkedIn

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybersecurity, DNS, DNS Security

Categories: News and Updates

Facebook and Privacy

Domain industry news - Mon, 2019-03-11 20:12

Mark Zuckerberg shocked a lot of people by promising a new focus on privacy for Facebook. There are many skeptics; Zuckerberg himself noted that the company doesn't "currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services." And there are issues that his blog post doesn't address; Zeynep Tufekci discusses many of them While I share many of her concerns, I think there are some other issues — and risks.

The Velocity of Content

Facebook has been criticized for being a channel where bad stuff — anti-vaxxer nonsense, fake news (in the original sense of the phrase...), bigotry, and more — can spread very easily. Tufekci called this out explicitly:

At the moment, critics can (and have) held Facebook accountable for its failure to adequately moderate the content it disseminates — allowing for hate speech, vaccine misinformation, fake news and so on. Once end-to-end encryption is put in place, Facebook can wash its hands of the content. We don't want to end up with all the same problems we now have with viral content online — only with less visibility and nobody to hold responsible for it.

Some critics have called for Facebook to do more to curb such ideas. The company itself has announced it will stop recommending anti-vaccination content. Free speech advocates, though, worry about this a lot. It's not that anti-vaxxer content is valuable (or even coherent...); rather, it's that encouraging such a huge, influential company to censor communications is very dangerous. Besides, it doesn't scale; automated algorithms will make mistakes and can be biased; people not only make mistakes, too, but find the activity extremely stressful. As someone who is pretty much a free speech absolutist myself, I really dislike censorship. That said, as a scientist, I prefer not closing my eyes to unpleasant facts. What if Facebook really is different enough that a different paradigm is needed?

Is Facebook that different? I confess that I don't know. That is, it has certain inherent differences, but I don't know if they're great enough in effect to matter, and if so, if the net benefit is more or less than the net harm. Still, it's worth taking a look at what these differences are.

Before Gutenberg, there was essentially no mass communication: everything was one person speaking or writing to a few others. Yes, the powerful — kings, popes, and the like — could order their subordinates to pass on certain messages, and this could have widespread effect. Indeed, this phenomenon was even recognized in the Biblical Book of Esther

3:12 Then were the king's scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king's lieutenants, and to the governors that were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king's ring.

3:13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.

3:14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day.

3:15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king's commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.

By and large, though, this was rare.

Gutenberg's printing press made life a lot easier. People other than potentates could produce and distribute fliers, pamphlets, newspapers, books, and the like. Information became much more democratic, though, as has often been observed, "freedom of the press belongs to those who own printing presses". There was mass communication, but there were still gatekeepers: most people could not in practice reach a large audience without the permission of a comparative few. Radio and television did not change this dynamic.

Enter the Internet. There was suddenly easy, cheap, many-to-many communication. A U.S. court recognized this. All parties to the case (on government-mandated censorship of content accessible to children) stipulated, among other things:

79. Because of the different forms of Internet communication, a user of the Internet may speak or listen interchangeably, blurring the distinction between "speakers" and "listeners" on the Internet. Chat rooms, e-mail, and newsgroups are interactive forms of communication, providing the user with the opportunity both to speak and to listen.

80. It follows that unlike traditional media, the barriers to entry as a speaker on the Internet do not differ significantly from the barriers to entry as a listener. Once one has entered cyberspace, one may engage in the dialogue that occurs there. In the argot of the medium, the receiver can and does become the content provider, and vice-versa.

81. The Internet is therefore a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication.

The judges recognized the implications:

It is no exaggeration to conclude that the Internet has achieved, and continues to achieve, the most participatory marketplace of mass speech that this country — and indeed the world — has yet seen. The plaintiffs in these actions correctly describe the "democratizing" effects of Internet communication: individual citizens of limited means can speak to a worldwide audience on issues of concern to them. Federalists and Anti-Federalists may debate the structure of their government nightly, but these debates occur in newsgroups or chat rooms rather than in pamphlets. Modern-day Luthers still post their theses but to electronic bulletin boards rather than the door of the Wittenberg Schlosskirche. More mundane (but from a constitutional perspective, equally important) dialogue occurs between aspiring artists, or French cooks, or dog lovers, or fly fishermen.

Indeed, the Government's asserted "failure" of the Internet rests on the implicit premise that too much speech occurs in that medium, and that speech there is too available to the participants. This is exactly the benefit of Internet communication, however. The Government, therefore, implicitly asks this court to limit both the amount of speech on the Internet and the availability of that speech. This argument is profoundly repugnant to First Amendment principles.

But what if this is the problem? What if this new, many-to-many communications, is precisely what is causing trouble? More precisely, what if the problem is the velocity of communication, in units of people per day?

High-velocity propagation appears to be exacerbated by automation, either explicitly or as a side-effect. YouTube's recommendation algorithm appears to favor extremist content. Facebook has a similar problem:

Contrast this, however, with another question from Ms. Harris, in which she asked Ms. Sandberg how Facebook can "reconcile an incentive to create and increase your user engagement when the content that generates a lot of engagement is often inflammatory and hateful." That astute question Ms. Sandberg completely sidestepped, which was no surprise: No statistic can paper over the fact that this is a real problem.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have business models that thrive on the outrageous, the incendiary and the eye-catching, because such content generates "engagement" and captures our attention, which the platforms then sell to advertisers, paired with extensive data on users that allow advertisers (and propagandists) to "microtarget" us at an individual level.

The velocity, in these cases, appears to be a side-effect of this algorithmic desire for engagement. Sometimes, though, bots appear to be designed to maximize the spread of malicious content. Either way, information spreads far more quickly than it used to, and on a many-to-many basis.

Zuckerberg suggests that Facebook wants to focus on smaller-scale communications:

This is different from broader social networks, where people can accumulate friends or followers until the services feel more public. This is well-suited to many important uses — telling all your friends about something, using your voice on important topics, finding communities of people with similar interests, following creators and media, buying and selling things, organizing fundraisers, growing businesses, or many other things that benefit from having everyone you know in one place. Still, when you see all these experiences together, it feels more like a town square than a more intimate space like a living room.

There is an opportunity to build a platform that focuses on all of the ways people want to interact privately. This sense of privacy and intimacy is not just about technical features — it is designed deeply into the feel of the service overall. In WhatsApp, for example, our team is obsessed with creating an intimate environment in every aspect of the product. Even where we've built features that allow for broader sharing, it's still a less public experience. When the team built groups, they put in a size limit to make sure every interaction felt private. When we shipped stories on WhatsApp, we limited public content because we worried it might erode the feeling of privacy to see lots of public content — even if it didn't actually change who you're sharing with.

What if Facebook evolves that way, and moves more towards small-group communication rather than being a digital town square? What will be the effect? Will smaller-scale many-to-many communications behave this way?

I personally like being able to share my thoughts with the world. I was, after all, one of the creators of Usenet; I still spend far too much time on Twitter. But what if this velocity is bad for the world? I don't know if it is, and I hope it isn't — but what if it is?

One final thought on this… In democracies, restrictions on speech are more likely to pass legal scrutiny if they're content-neutral. For example, a loudspeaker truck advocating some controversial position can be banned under anti-noise regulations, regardless of what it is saying. It is quite possible that a velocity limit would be accepted — and it's not at all clear that this would be desirable. Authoritarian governments are well aware of the power of mass communications:

The use of big-character-posters did not end with the Cultural Revolution. Posters appeared in 1976, during student movements in the mid-1980s, and were central to the Democracy Wall movement in 1978. The most famous poster of this period was Wei Jingsheng's call for democracy as a "fifth modernization." The state responded by eliminating the clause in the Constitution that allowed people the right to write big-character-posters, and the People’s Daily condemned them for their responsibility in the "ten years of turmoil" and as a threat to socialist democracy. Nonetheless, the spirit of the big-character-poster remains a part of protest repertoire, whether in the form of the flyers and notes put up by students in Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement or as ephemeral posts on the Chinese internet.

As the court noted, "Federalists and Anti-Federalists may debate the structure of their government nightly, but these debates occur in newsgroups or chat rooms rather than in pamphlets." Is it good if we give up high-velocity, many-to-many communications?

Certainly, there are other channels than Facebook. But it's unique: with 2.32 billion users, it reaches about 30% of the world's population. Any change it makes will have worldwide implications. I wonder if they'll be for the best.

Possible Risks

Zuckerberg spoke of much more encryption, but he also noted the risks of encrypted content: "Encryption is a powerful tool for privacy, but that includes the privacy of people doing bad things. When billions of people use a service to connect, some of them are going to misuse it for truly terrible things like child exploitation, terrorism, and extortion. We have a responsibility to work with law enforcement and to help prevent these wherever we can". What does this imply?

One possibility, of course, is that Facebook might rely more on metadata for analysis: "We are working to improve our ability to identify and stop bad actors across our apps by detecting patterns of activity." But he also spoke of analysis "through other means". What might they be? Doing client-side analysis? About 75% of Facebook users employ mobile devices to access the service; Facebook clients can look at all sorts of things. Content analysis can happen that way, too; though Facebook doesn't use content to target ads, might it use it for censorship, good or bad?

Encryption also annoys many governments. Governments disliking encryption is not new, of course, but the more people use it, the more upset they will get. This will be exacerbated if encrypted messaging is used for mass communications; Tufekci is specifically concerned about that: "Once end-to-end encryption is put in place, Facebook can wash its hands of the content. We don't want to end up with all the same problems we now have with viral content online — only with less visibility and nobody to hold responsible for it." We can expect pressure for back doors to increase — but they'll still be a dangerous idea, for all of the reasons we've outlined. (And of course, that interacts with the free speech issue.)

I'm not even convinced that Facebook can actually pull this off. Here's the problem with encryption: who has the keys? Note carefully: you need the key to read the content — but that implies that if the authorized user loses her key, she herself has lost access to her content and messages. The challenge for Facebook, then, is protecting keys against unauthorized parties — Zuckerberg specifically calls out "heavy-handed government intervention in many countries" as a threat — but also making them available to authorized users who have suffered some mishap. Matt Green calls this mud puddle test: if you drop your device in a mud puddle and forget your password, how do you recover your keys?

Apple has gone to great lengths to lock themselves out of your password. Facebook could adopt a similar strategy — but that could mean that a forgotten password means loss of all encrypted content. Facebook, of course, has a way to recover from a forgotten password — but will that recover a lost key? Should it? So-called secondary authentication is notoriously weak. Perhaps it's an acceptable tradeoff to regain access to your account but lose access to older content — indeed, Zuckerberg explicitly spoke of the desirability of evanescent content. But even if that's a good tradeoff — Zuckerberg says "you'd have the ability to change the timeframe or turn off auto-deletion for your threads if you wanted" — if someone else (including a government) took control of you're account, it would violate another principle Facebook holds dear: "there must never be any doubt about who you are communicating with".

How Facebook handles this dilemma will be very important. Key recovery will make many users very happy, but it will allow the "heavy-handed government intervention" Zuckerberg decries. A user-settable option on key recovery? The usability of any such an option is open to serious question; beyond that, most users will go with the default, and will thus inherit the risks of that default.

Written by Steven Bellovin, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University

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More under: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Privacy, Web

Categories: News and Updates

Russians Take to the Streets to Protest Against New Internet Restrictions

Domain industry news - Mon, 2019-03-11 18:54

Thousands of Russians in Moscow and other cities rallied on Sunday against tighter internet restrictions. The protest is reported to be one of the most prominent in the Russian capital in years. Reuters reports: "Lawmakers last month backed tighter internet controls contained in legislation they say is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia's affairs. But some Russian media likened it to an online 'iron curtain' and critics say it can be used to stifle dissent. ... The legislation is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian 'sovereignty' over its Internet segment." The new bill passed in the Russian parliament in February aims to route Russian internet traffic and data through points controlled by the state and proposes building a national DNS as an alternate platform in the event the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

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Should GoDaddy allow investors to list domains in the expired auction stream?

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2019-03-11 17:47

It would be great for domain sellers but has some downsides.

There was an interesting discussion on Twitter over the weekend about auctioning domain names on GoDaddy.

Hey – @godaddyauctions @jjstyler – I want to liquidate DomainDiscounts dot com.
Can you put it in an “expired auction” format for me so that we can both get top dollar? … Serious question.#Auctions #Domains

— Josh Reason (@JoshuaHReason) March 10, 2019

The question is if GoDaddy should include non-expired domain auctions in the same way and feed as expired domain auctions. Should it do what NameJet does by allowing third parties to list inventory and have it show up just like an expired domain?

This would obviously be good for domainers that wish to liquidate their domains. Expired domain auctions at GoDaddy get a lot of views and sell for pretty good prices. I’d love to get some of my names shown on that channel.

There are some downsides, however.

1. When I buy domains through GoDaddy expired auctions, the fact that the domain is expiring has value in and of itself. There’s a higher chance that an expired domain hasn’t been marketed to end users than a domain an investor is trying to offload. Mixing in non-expiring domains means I have to do more homework.

2. Allowing third-party listings creates incentives for shill bidding. We know what happened at NameJet with this.

3. Expired domains have a guaranteed push, at least if they’re at GoDaddy. (This could be enacted for third-party listings, too.)

If GoDaddy ever decides to allow third-party inventory in its expiring auctions, they need to maintain the same structure: $12 opening bid, no reserve, and closeouts. Sellers would need to take the risk.

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Radix reports 30% revenue jump in 2018

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2019-03-11 16:19

Company grosses nearly $17 million in 2018.

Privately-held new top level domain name company Radix released some earnings data today.

The company grossed $16.95 million last year, up 30% over 2017. The revenue contribution breakdown is:

  • 27% standard registrations
  • 60% standard renewals
  • 13% premium revenue

The $16.95 million figure is net of all rebates and promotional credits to registrars.

Revenue-wise, the top three countries are the United States (48%), Germany (12%) and China (6%). I suspect that China and the U.S. are inverted when it comes to actual registration volumes, though.

Radix operates nine new top level domains. .Online and .Site are its most popular in terms of total registrations with over 1 million each. It also operates the .PW country code domain name.


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This Austin restaurant uses an internationalized domain name

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2019-03-11 15:49

Note the accent mark in this domain name.

A domain industry friend was in Austin this morning and we met up for breakfast. When scheduling a place to meet, I googled the name of a local bakery to get its details. I did a double take when I saw its domain name:

Notice the accent mark above café?

This is technically the internationalized domain name

I was surprised to see a restaurant adopt an IDN. I wonder if they copied-and-pasted their name into the registrar search box when they chose the domain. (I tried to talk to the owner this morning but he was too busy making pastries.)

I doubt this restaurant has many people typing in its domain name. If they did, few people would land on the website because most wouldn’t include the accent. To be honest, it seems that domains are an afterthought for this business. A shorter domain printed on the bakery’s menu has expired and, when you search on Google, a Weebly subdomain site also pops up.

Clearly, this restaurant isn’t too worried about its web presence. It’s been around for a while and counts on repeat business.

Still, I thought it was interesting to see a U.S. restaurant using an IDN.

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NamesCon auction lifts sales in February

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2019-03-11 13:48’s marketplace sales from February were low, but NamesCon juices numbers.

February was a very slow month at’s sites NameJet and SnapNames. If you exclude sales from the NamesCon auction, they had only 44 sales of $2,000 or more totaling $211,000.

Including the auction they had 86 sales for a total of about $2.5 million.

Perhaps it was just a hiccup with fewer good expired domains hitting the auctions. And February is a shorter month than usual.

Among the non-Namescon sales was for $22,300, for $18,600 and for $9,999. Those were at NameJet; the top SnapNames sale was for $6,177.

Here’s the list of sales of $2,000 or more, including if they are from the NamesCon auction.

Domain NameSale PricePlatformNotes ol.com900000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction leads.com435000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction domainnames.com370000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction djs.com130000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction stop.com110000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction mywebsite.com70000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction mez.com29000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction kdj.com22300NameJet chatsites.com21000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction bg.net20000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction xga.com20000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction arcus.com18600NameJet oncologist.com14400NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction traceroute.com14300NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction np.net13000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction abdul.com13000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction cannabiscompany.com12000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction downsize.com12000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction wipeout.com12000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction repossession.com11000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction battalion.com10200NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction 945.net9999NameJet pensar.com9928NameJet smartdrugs.com9500NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction fk.org9000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction selfiesticks.com8200NameJet coordination.com8000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction absence.com7700NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction solvent.com7600NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction beila.com7410NameJet antfarm.com7288NameJet draught.com7221NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction qv.net7000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction insurance.us7000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction digitalfactory.com6999NameJet skyairlines.com6177SnapNames 70s.com6000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction shoerack.com6000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction zhangquan.com5719NameJet dietsupplements.com5500NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction ibar.com5500NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction ambitions.com5328NameJet blackdown.org5310NameJet niemann.com5104NameJet xxxteens.com5100NameJet liveupdate.com5100NameJet 87718.com4999NameJet bedside.com4650NameJet xm.co4500NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction tigres.com4300NameJet prefuse.org4100NameJet wawang.com4018SnapNames startupfunding.com4000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction glucose.org4000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction numerals.com4000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction dieticians.com4000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction illc.com4000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction skog.com4000SnapNames pmda.com3900NameJet iavcei.org3500NameJet emd.org3333NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction premiumcigars.com3333NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction thebes.com3000NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction lifebet.com2800SnapNames rmobile.com2756SnapNames crowdcomputing.com2700NameJet r12.com2612NameJet 50607.com2611NameJet localapp.com2600NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction 3a3.com2600NameJet brandlock.com2600NameJet softwaretesting.com2522NameJet carrieres.com2375SnapNames collinsgroup.com2356NameJet financehome.com2355NameJet ttll.com2272SnapNames qqmall.com2155NameJet action36.com2125NameJet chgeharvard.org2101NameJet jijiuka.com2101SnapNames vap.net2100NameJet/RightOfTheDotNamesCon Live Auction thekingmaker.com2077SnapNames hotelregina.com2050NameJet icpm.com2022NameJet 20191.com2000NameJet 79983.com2000NameJet

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Five Inconvenient Facts about the Migration to 5G Wireless

Domain industry news - Sun, 2019-03-10 19:39

An unprecedented disinformation campaign purposefully distorts what consumers and governments understand about the upcoming fifth generation of wireless broadband technology. A variety of company executives and their sponsored advocates want us to believe that the United States already has lost the race to 5G global market supremacy and that it can regain it only with the assistance of a compliant government and a gullible public. Stakeholders have identified many new calamities, such as greater vulnerability to foreign government-sponsored espionage carried out by equipment manufacturers, as grounds for supporting the merger of two of only four national wireless carriers and preventing U.S. telecommunications companies from buying equipment manufactured by specific, blacklisted Chinese companies.

How do these prescriptions promote competition and help consumers? Plain and simple, they do not, but that does not stop well-funded campaigns from convincing us that less competition is better. Set out below, I offer five obvious but obscured truths.

1) Further concentration of the wireless marketplace will do nothing to maintain, or reclaim global 5G supremacy.

It requires a remarkable suspension of disbelief to think that allowing Sprint and TMobile to merge remedies a variety of ills, rather than further depletes conditions favoring competition in an already extremely concentrated marketplace. Advocates for the merger want us to believe that it is our patriotic duty to support the combination because it will enhance the collective fortunes of wireless carriers and customers, help the U.S. regain 5G market leadership from the Chinese and achieve greater competition, innovation and employment than what two separate companies could achieve.

Nothing has prevented Sprint and TMobile from acquiring funds needed for 5G investments. Ironically, considering the rampant fear of foreign ventures doing business in the U.S. telecommunications marketplace, both companies have primary ownership by powerful foreign ventures: Softbank (Sprint) and Deutsch Telekom (TMobile). Interest rates have rarely reached such low levels and both companies have matched AT&T and Verizon in terms of preparing for the future migration from 4G to 5G infrastructure.

A merger would combine the two mavericks in the marketplace responsible for just about every consumer-friendly pricing and service innovation over the last decade from "anytime" minutes, to bring your own device, to attractive bundling of "free" and "unmetered" content. A merged venture would reduce the number of wireless towers, total radio spectrum used to provide service and incentives for enhancing the value proposition of next-generation wireless technology.

2) Carriers Cannot Expedite 5G with Labels.

Branding handsets and service as "5G evolving" contributes to the hype without expediting the ready for service date. An emphasis on puffery and marketing distracts the carriers and their subscribers from an emphasis on the hard work needed to make 5G a reality. There are no short cuts in spectrum planning, network design, equipment installation and coordination between carriers and local authorities. Even before the rollout of definitive 5G standards and equipment, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to limit local regulators by establishing a "shot clock" deadline on permitting and site authorizations no matter how complicated and locality specific.

3) Ignoring or Underemphasizing International Coordination will Backfire.

Next generation network planning typically requires years of negotiation between and among national governments. For wireless services, the nations of the world attempt to reach consensus on which frequencies to allocate and what operational procedures and standards to recommend. This process requires patience, study, consensus building and compromise, characteristics sadly out of vogue in the current environment newly fixated with real or perceived threats to national security, fair trade and intellectual property rights. These important matters increase the need to coordinate with nations, rather than offer enhanced, first to market opportunities for nations acting unilaterally and independent of traditional inter-governmental forums.

4) Invoking Patriotism, Trade and National Security Concerns Will Harm U.S. Ventures.

Advisors to Sprint and TMobile probably are congratulating themselves on having come up with a creative, national security rationale for unprecedented and ill-advised merger approval and outlawing market entry by foreign equipment manufacturers. Their short term objectives ignore the great likelihood of long term harm to efficiency, innovation, employment, nimbleness and speed in market entry. Concentrating a market reduces competitive incentives by making it easier for dominant ventures to establish an industry-wide consensus on service rates and terms. Antitrust experts use the term "conscious parallelism" to identify the all too frequent decision by competitors not to devote sleepless afternoons competing rather than implicitly accepting a high margin path of least resistance.

5) Politicizing Next Generation Wireless Harms Everyone.

Planning for a major new generation of wireless technology did not always have a political element, divided along party lines. The process is tedious and incremental, perhaps not well too slow to accommodate the pace of changes in technologies and markets. However, its primary goal seeks to optimize technology for the greatest good. Historically, when nations favored domestic standards and companies, markets fragmented and profit margins declined.

Incompatible transmission standards, like that currently in use by wireless carriers, have increased consumer cost and frustration because an AT&T handset will not work on the Verizon network. Incompatible standards and spectrum assignments typically harm consumers and competition by increasing the likelihood of incompatible equipment and networks.

I cannot understand how two political parties can apply the same evaluative criterion and reach total opposite outcomes. By law, the FCC and Justice Department must consider whether the TMobile-Sprint merger would "substantially lessen" competition. Measuring markets and assessing market impacts should not cleave along a political fulcrum, yet it does with predictably adverse consequences. One cannot see any harm in a business initiative that concentrates a market, while the other one cannot anticipate how a merger might enhance competition, or at least cause no harm.

If politics, national industrial policy and false patriotism become dominant factors in spectrum planning and next-generation network, consumers will suffer as will ventures who have become distracted and unfocused on how to make 5G enhance the wireless value proposition.

Written by Rob Frieden, Pioneers Chair and Professor of Telecommunications and Law

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Thousands of UK Businesses, Individuals to Lose Their .EU Web Address in a No-Deal Brexit

Domain industry news - Sat, 2019-03-09 21:35

The British government is urging close to 340,000 registered holders of .EU domain in Britain to make contingency plans as their web addresses will disappear if the UK does not agree on a deal with Brussels. Updated government guidance according to The Guardian report warns if the UK leaves without a deal at the end of March then domain owners based in the UK will have two months leeway to move their principal location to somewhere within the EU or EEA. "After a year, all the British-registered .EU domains will be made available for purchase by individuals and companies who continue to reside in the EU."

Impact on European TLDs not limited to .EU: "The rights of UK residents to hold domain names in all of the following countries will also be affected post-Brexit," reports JDSRUPA:

.FR (France)
.HU (Hungary)
.IT (Italy)
.RE (Reunion Island)
.YT (Mayotte)
.PM (Saint Pierre and Miquelon)
.WF (Wallis and Futuna Islands)
.TF (French Southern and Antarctic Territories)

This is because above TLDs generally require a registrant located in the EU (or in the territory of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

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Who registered

Domain Name Wire - Sat, 2019-03-09 15:38

Company registered four domain names yesterday that state that Dr. Seuss was racist.

A company registered four interesting domain names yesterday:,,, and

The domain names were registered using brand protection registrar MarkMonitor. The whois records are protected by MarkMonitor’s whois privacy.

There’s some controversy around Dr. Suess being racist. This stems, in part, from the inclusion of stereotypical imagery that was commonplace when he wrote and illustrated his books. His views seemed to change over time.

The current publisher for Dr. Seuss books, Penguin Random House, uses CSC as its domain name registrar. However, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, LP uses MarkMonitor.

In fact, it registered the domain name yesterday at MarkMonitor. Dr. Seuss Horse Museum is a posthumous Dr. Seuss book. So my money is on these being defensive registrations.

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Domain Name Wire turns 14

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2019-03-08 18:04

The teenage years are rockin’ at Domain Name Wire.

14 years ago tomorrow, this blog had its humble beginning.

Happy Birthday, Domain Name Wire.

Thank you to everyone who has supported DNW over the past 14 years: sponsors, readers and sources. Without sponsors or readers, this site would fall apart.

DNW sponsors have made it possible for me to spend time producing content that helps the domain name industry move forward. I’d like to give special recognization to my two longest-running sponsors, Sedo and Domain Capital. Although sponsorship space is tight right now, please reach out if you are interested in supporting this site.

Here’s to another exciting year in domain names!

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Keith Lubsen elevated to Chief Business Operator of Afilias

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2019-03-08 15:17

Keith Lubsen and Ram Mohan are taking over most of the CEO’s responsibilities.

Domain name registry company Afilias has promoted Keith Lubsen to a new position of Chief Business Officer. He will oversee finance, mergers and acquisitions, and legal.

If this is a bit confusing to you, you’re not alone. Earlier this week the company announced that CEO Hal Lubsen would oversee these three areas of the company now that Ram Mohan is the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

Keith is Hal’s son and has been involved with the business for over a decade.

So it seems that the elder Lubsen is essentially moving into a scaled-back role and Ram Mohan and Keith Lubsen will take over the day-to-day operations that Hal Lubsen was in charge of.


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Prince’s estate now owns domain name

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2019-03-08 14:26 changes hands as part of legal settlement.

The estate of late musician Prince (or whatever he was finally called) now owns the domain name

Domain Capital, which owned the domain name, and the estate got into a legal tussle in which the estate claimed the domain was cybersquatting and Domain Capital counter sued for reverse domain name hijacking.

The parties settled in January and there was an escrow agreement involved. This suggests that Domain Capital agreed to transfer the domain name in return for a cash payment.

As of yesterday, the domain name is at brand protection registrar Com Laude and shows that Paisley Park Enterprises, Inc. is the owner. The domain name does not resolve to a website.

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