News and Updates

Can Constellations of Internet Routing Satellites Compete With Long-Distance Terrestrial Cables?

Domain industry news - Wed, 2017-09-13 22:16

The goal will be to have the majority of long distance traffic go over this network. —Elon Musk

Three companies, SpaceX, OneWeb, and Boeing are working on constellations of low-Earth orbiting satellites to provide Internet connectivity. While all three may be thinking of competing with long, terrestrial cables, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said "the goal will be to have the majority of long-distance traffic go over this (satellite) network" at the opening of SpaceX's Seattle office in 2015 (video below).

SpaceX orbital path schematic, sourceCan he pull that off?

Their first constellation will consist of 4,425 satellites operating in 83 orbital planes at altitudes ranging from 1,110 to 1,325 km. They plan to launch a prototype satellite before the end of this year and a second one during the early months of 2018. They will start launching operational satellites in 2019 and will complete the first constellation by 2024.

The satellites will use radios to communicate with ground stations, but links between the satellites will be optical.

At an altitude of 1,110 kilometers, the distance to the horizon is 3,923 kilometers. That says each satellite will have a line-of-sight view of all other satellites that are within 7,846 kilometers, forming an immense mesh network. Terrestrial networks are not so richly interconnected and cables must zig-zag around continents and islands if undersea and other obstructions if under ground.

Latency in a super-mesh of long, straight-line links should be much lower than with terrestrial cable. Additionally, Musk says the speed of light in a vacuum is 40-50 percent faster than in a cable, cutting latency further.

Let's look at an example. I traced the route from my home in Los Angeles to the University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile. As shown here, the terrestrial route was 14 hops and the theoretical satellite link only five hops. (The figure is drawn roughly to scale).

So, we have 5 low-latency links versus 14 higher-latency links. The gap may close somewhat as cable technology improves, but it seems that Musk may be onto something.

Check out the following video of the speech Musk gave at the opening of SpaceX's Seattle office. His comments about the long-distance connections discussed here come at the three-minute mark, but I'd advise you to watch the entire 26-minute speech:

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

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Innovative Solutions for Farming Emerge at the Apps for Ag Hackathon

Domain industry news - Wed, 2017-09-13 17:16

Too often, people consider themselves passive consumers of the Internet. The apps and websites we visit are made by people with technical expertise using languages we don't understand. It's hard to know how to plug in, even if you have a great idea to contribute. One solution for this problem is the hackathon.

Entering the Hackathon Arena

For the uninitiated, a hackathon is a place of hyper-productivity. A group of people converge for a set period of time, generally a weekend to build solutions to specific problems. Often, the hackathon has an overall goal, like the Sacramento Apps for Ag hackathon.

"The Apps for Ag Hackathon was created to bring farmers, technologists, students and others from the agriculture and technology industries together in a vibrant, focused environment to create the seeds of new solutions for farmers using technology," says Gabriel Youtsey, Chief Innovation Officer, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Now in its fourth year, the hackathon was bigger than ever and was held at The Urban Hive in Sacramento, with the pitch presentations taking place during the California State Fair. The event kicked off on Friday evening, with perspectives from a farmer on the challenges for agriculture in California, including labor, water supply, food safety, and pests, and how technology can help solve them. Hackathon participants also had opportunities to get up and talk about their own ideas for apps or other technology-related concepts to solve food and agriculture problems for farmers.

From there, teams freely formed based on people's skills and inclinations. Although the hackathon is competitive, there is a great deal of collaboration happening, as people hash out ideas together. The hackathon itself provides tools and direction, and experts provide valuable advice and mentorship. At the end of the event, the teams presented working models of their apps and a slide deck to describe the business plan. Judges then decided who got to go home with the prizes, which often include support like office space, cash, and cloud dollars so that developers can keep building their software.

For Entrepreneurs, Newbies, and Techies Alike

In late July of this year, three people with very different career backgrounds entered the Apps for Ag Hackathon to dedicate their weekend to building a piece of software. They all walked away with a top prize and a renewed commitment to reimagining how technology can contribute to agriculture and food production. In the room was Sreejumon Kundilepurayil, a hackathon veteran who has worked for tech giants building mobile and software solutions, Scott Kirkland, a UC Davis software developer and gardener, and Heather Lee, a self-described generalist in business and agritourist enthusiast.

"I was terrified," Lee shared. "I'm tech capable — I've taken some coding classes — but I had no idea what my role would be. I decided to go and put myself in an uncomfortable position. When I got there, I realized that telling a story was my role." While her team members were mapping out the API and back-end development, Lee was working on the copy, graphics, video, and brand guide. Her idea for a mobile app that connects farmers and tourists for unique day-trips to farms ended up winning third place.

First place went to Kundilepurayul and Vidya Kannoly for an app called Dr Green, which will help gardeners and farmers diagnose plant diseases using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Initially built for the Californian market, it will eventually be available globally as the machine gets more and more adept at identifying plants and problems. Through their phone, growers will also have access to a messaging feature to ask questions and get advice.

The first place winners!

The benefits (and limitations) of a hackathon

By design, a hackathon encourages collaboration and allows for people's individual strengths to shine. Some people come to a hackathon with the goal of building software, while others are looking for career opportunities, mentorship, and feedback on business ideas. What they usually don't go home with is a totally perfect piece of software. Because of time constraints, teams are judged on a working mock-up of their idea.

That doesn't mean the app won't eventually be released to the market. For Lee, who now owns all rights to her business (as she discussed with her team at the beginning of the hackathon), she will have to rebuild the software so that it will work for her company at scale. Still, her experience at the hackathon was invaluable. "It's proof that I have a place in tech and a viable business plan," she said. When I talked to her, she was in the process of launching an LLC and was in Napa Valley pitching the idea to farmers.

It also doesn't mean that the teams have to dissolve after the hackathon. Kirkland, who was part of the winning team last year, is still involved in the roll-out of the app that sealed his team's victory. His work for this year's hackathon might have legs, too. The new app, called Greener, is an image-based app backed by machine learning that can diagnose plant diseases and problems. Because of connections he made at the hackathon, he's now in conversation with public and private entities about how to move forward with the idea.

The SF-Bay Area Chapter was a partner for the Apps for Ag Hackathon 2017 as part of ongoing efforts to promote its project, "Bridging California's Rural/Urban Digital Divide with Mobile Broadband".

This article was written by Jenna Spagnolo on behalf of the SF Bay Area Internet Society Chapter.

Written by Jenna Spagnolo, Consultant & Non-Profit Leader

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Blockchain and Hurricane Harvey were popular in domains last month

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2017-09-13 15:59

Lots of blockchain related domains were registered in .com in August.

Verisign has published the list of “trending keywords” in new .com registrations last month. Keywords on the list doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

Words related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies dominated the charts: crypto, bit, block and chain. Houston and Harvey were also on the list thanks to Hurricane Harvey. You can bet that keywords related to Hurricane Irma will be on the list for September.

As a reminder, this list includes words that had the biggest increase in registrations from one month to the next. They do not represent the most popular keywords in new .com registrations.

Here’s the list:

1. Crypto
2. Bit
3. Mortgage
4. Block
5. Chain
6. Loan
7. Houston
8. Harvey
9. Equity
10. Attorney

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A big week for end user domain name sales

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2017-09-13 14:22

A six-figure sale leads Sedo’s sales list.

Sedo had a big week for end user domain name sales. I already wrote about Sedo’s biggest end user sale of the past week, It was acquired by a consulting firm called West Monroe Partners. Despite the $275,000 price tag, it was a great value.

Other buyers include a bank, the group behind the SAT, and a toy maker.

Here’s the list of end user domain sales I found:

(You can view previous lists like this here.) $275,000 – West Monroe Partners $28,000 – The domain forwards to, the group behind the SAT and AP tests. $22,500 – An electronics seller that uses the domain name $19,000 – Banco Bonsucesso S/A. It’s a lot shorter than! $10,000 – Kamet Ventures, an insurance technology startup incubator funded by AXA. This might be for one of its new portfolio companies. $8,000 – An artificial intelligence company called Olono has yet to launch, but forwards the domain to $7,800 – Wenzhou Times Co is a Chinese toy maker. $7,000 – Breunig Realty Group in Dallas. Highland Park is an upscale area of Dallas. $5,800 – BYBE Inc., and alcohol marketing company, shortened from $5,000 – Digital marketing company Elevated, which owns It might be for a client or a marketing campaign. €4,900 – The whois record has privacy, but the nameservers switched to This makes me think this will be a new site from Leaf Group, the new name for Demand Media. $4,900 – The domain resolve to a site for Zensi Extracts and says it’s coming soon. $3,999 – SumUp Holdings S.a.r.L, maker of a credit card reader, bought the Japanese country code domain to match its .com. $3,500 – A business coach named Wendy White. €2,990 – The domain is resolving to a Augmented Reality site PrimeLite $2,650 – Wine Marketplace Pty Ltd in Australia. €2,100 – An Italian restaurant banquet center in Dublin, Ohio.

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Amazon's Letter to ICANN Board: It's Time to Approve Our Applications for .AMAZON TLDs

Domain industry news - Tue, 2017-09-12 22:54

When ICANN launched the new gTLD program five years ago, Amazon eagerly joined the process, applying for .AMAZON and its Chinese and Japanese translations, among many others. Our mission was — and is — simple and singular: We want to innovate on behalf of our customers through the DNS.

ICANN evaluated our applications according to the community-developed Applicant Guidebook in 2012; they achieved perfect scores. Importantly, ICANN's Geographic Names Panel determined that "AMAZON" is not a geographic name that is prohibited or one that requires governmental approval. We sincerely appreciate the care with which ICANN itself made these determinations, and are hopeful that a full approval of our applications is forthcoming.

In a letter we sent to the ICANN Board on September 7, 2017 (the full text of which may be found below), we laid out the reasons for why our applications should be swiftly approved now that an Independent Review Process (IRP) panel found in our favor. Our letter highlights the proactive engagement we attempted with the governments of the Amazonia region over a five year period to alleviate any concerns about using .AMAZON for our business purposes.

First, we have worked to ensure that the governments of Brazil and Peru understand we will not use the TLDs in a confusing manner. We proposed to support a future gTLD to represent the region using the geographic terms of the regions, including .AMAZONIA, .AMAZONICA or .AMAZONAS. We also offered to reserve for the relevant governments certain domain names that could cause confusion or touch on national sensitivities.

During the course of numerous formal and informal engagements, we repeatedly expressed our interest in finding an agreed-upon outcome. And while the governments have declined these offers, we stand by our binding commitment from our July 4, 2013 Public Interest Commitment (PIC) to the .AMAZON applications, which stated that we will limit registration of culturally sensitive terms — engaging in regular conversations with the relevant governments to identify these terms — and formalizing the fact that we will not object to any future applications of .AMAZONAS, .AMAZONIA and .AMAZONICA.

We continue to believe it is possible to use .AMAZON for our business purposes while respecting the people, culture, history, and ecology of the Amazonia region.

We appreciate the ICANN Board's careful deliberation of our applications and the IRP decision. But as our letter states, approval of our .AMAZON applications by the ICANN Board is the only decision that is consistent with the bottom-up, multistakeholder rules that govern ICANN and the new gTLD program. We urge the ICANN Board to now approve our applications. An ICANN accountable to the global multistakeholder community must do no less.

The full text of our letter is below.

* * *

Dear Chairman Crocker and Members of the ICANN Board of Directors:

We write as the ICANN Board considers the July 10, 2017 Final Declaration of the Independent Review Process Panel (IRP) in Amazon EU S.à.r.l. v. ICANN regarding the .AMAZON Applications. Because the Panel concluded that the Board acted in a manner inconsistent with its Bylaws, we ask the Board to immediately approve our long-pending .AMAZON Applications. Such action is necessary because there is no sovereign right under international or national law to the name "Amazon," because there are no well-founded and substantiated public policy reasons to block our Applications, because we are committed to using the TLDs in a respectful manner, and because the Board should respect the IRP accountability mechanism.

First, the Board should recognize that the IRP Panel carefully examined the legal and public policy reasons offered by the objecting governments and found each to be insufficient or inaccurate. The Board should respect the IRP Panel conclusions.

Second, for the last 5 years, Amazon has repeatedly offered to work with the concerned governments to find an amicable solution, offering to explore how we can best use .AMAZON for our business purposes while respecting the people, culture, history, and ecology of the Amazonia region. Although those governments consistently declined our offers, we remain willing to adhere to our July 4, 2013 Public Interest Commitment (PIC) to the .AMAZON Applications. This binding commitment, which provides a practical solution, underscores why acting towards approving these applications immediately is in the public interest.

Finally, the Board last acted in 2014 — before the IANA transition and the resulting changes to ICANN's Bylaws. The Board should take this opportunity to demonstrate to everyone — including those who objected to the IANA transition on the grounds that it would give too much control to governments — that ICANN is appropriately responsive to the accountability measures that the multistakeholder community required as part of the transition.

Almost one year ago, Chairman Crocker heralded the ICANN multistakeholder community's dedication and commitment in developing a broadly supported, consensus proposal to enhance ICANN's transparency and accountability — a proposal that preserved "the existing multistakeholder system while laying the foundation for a more accountable and equitable balance within the ICANN ecosystem." With the .AMAZON Applications, the Board should publicly and clearly honor this commitment to transparency and accountability. In contrast, permitting the GAC to veto TLD applications that received perfect application evaluation scores (41/41) based upon reasons that are neither well-founded nor merit-based directly contravenes ICANN's oft-stated and critically important commitment to serving the public interest, as determined by rules agreed to by the multi-stakeholder community.

The ICANN-authorized IRP, the ICANN-selected Community Objection dispute resolution provider, and the ICANN-selected legal expert have rejected every reason put forth for denying the .AMAZON Applications. The Board should not grant Brazil and Peru a fourth, and the GAC a third, opportunity to try to further delay the global public interest benefits associated with .AMAZON. It is now time for the Board to approve the .AMAZON Applications. (A full timeline of our applications is in the Appendix.)

We are aware that governmental pressure on the Board in connection with matters of Internet governance, although unrelated to the .AMAZON Applications, is of concern to ICANN. Such pressure does not change the truth — that for four years Brazil and Peru have been unable to provide legally and factually sound reasons for rejecting the .AMAZON Applications. If the Board yields to such pressure, it will undermine ICANN's leadership in advancing the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance. In fact, rejection of the .AMAZON Applications after they received perfect application evaluation scores will undoubtedly be used by those stakeholders who were (and are) skeptical of ICANN's ability to remain independent of governmental overreach to question and challenge ICANN's ongoing legitimacy.

Board rejection of the .AMAZON Applications may also adversely impact any new gTLD subsequent procedure. Globally, hundreds (if not thousands) of brands have names similar to regions, land formations, mountains, towns, cities, and other geographic places, and the uncertainty of ICANN's sui generis protection of geographic names will deter these potential .BRAND applicants. Other applicants will also have reason to doubt the certainty and predictability of the gTLD subsequent procedure. After all, if an application that receives a perfect score, clears all third-party objections, passes Geographic Names Panel review, and is the subject of a favorable IRP Panel decision can be rejected because of an arbitrary GAC veto, no gTLD applicant can be certain of its application's prognosis.

The ICANN Board should now re-evaluate the .AMAZON Applications, mindful of the Panel's recommendations, and approve the .AMAZON Applications. ICANN's Bylaws and Core Values mandate such a decision. The Board should not request or consider any further GAC advice on the .AMAZON Applications. The GAC had ample time and opportunity to develop and reach consensus on "well-founded, merits-based public policy reasons for denying [our] applications." It did not because it could not then, and it cannot now, as recognized by the IRP. The Board also does not need to wait for policy recommendations from the new Subsequent Procedures PDP WG Geographic Names Work Track; that work, while important, does not impact the .AMAZON Applications, which we properly submitted under the Applicant Guidebook.

We request the opportunity to present to the Board and answer questions about the .AMAZON Applications before the Board acts on them, as well as an opportunity to review and respond to any subsequent submission by the GAC, Brazil, Peru, or any other party in connection with the .AMAZON Applications. We filed these applications over 5 years ago. Since then, multiple independent and objective experts have repeatedly found that our .AMAZON Applications are consistent with ICANN rules and existing law. The IRP Panel heard arguments on the length of time the applications have been pending and recommended that the Board should act "promptly." It is now time for the Board to act promptly and allow our .AMAZON Applications to proceed. That is the only decision that is consistent with the global public interest, the IRP Final Declaration, and the rule of law.


Scott Hayden
Vice President, Amazon

Brian Huseman
Vice President, Amazon

Written by Brian Huseman, Vice President, Public Policy at Amazon

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The three types of companies at WHD.usa

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2017-09-12 19:58

Here are the types of companies pitching to webhosts.

The show floor at WHD.usa.

I’m writing this from a familiar place for the domain industry: the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. I’m surrounded by the exhibit floor at WHD.usa, a web hosting industry conference put on by the same group that now runs NamesCon (which will be in the same hotel in January).

The majority of companies sponsoring the event fall into three buckets:

Website builders – These companies, including Duda and CM4all, offer website builders for webhosts. Domain registrars and hosts need an easy way for their customers to create websites and become sticky customers. Installing and creating a WordPress site is too technical for many users, and that’s where these companies step in. They offer white label or branded website builders that hosts/registrars offer to their customers. Most of these use a proprietary building platform, but Boldgrid is an example of one that makes it easy to start a WordPress site.

Domain reseller systems – OpenSRS and Enom have a co-branded booth this time around as they are no longer competing with each other after Tucows acquired Enom. InterNetX and Ascio also have booths. .Com registry Verisign is the headline sponsor.

Backup and security – This is a big area. There are spam filtering companies, backup protection, security systems and more. Some of these companies sell directly to end users and others offer their services to hosting companies that, in turn, offer them to their hosting customers.

Of course, these are just the sponsors. Attendees include companies all around the hosting ecosystem including the hosts themselves.

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CE Router Certification Opens Up the Last Mile to IPv6 Fixed-Line

Domain industry news - Tue, 2017-09-12 16:08

With reference to IPv6, probably most end users might not have any sense of it. The mainstream parlance in the industry is that network carriers and content and service providers stick to their own arguments. Carriers believe owing to the lack of IPv6 content and service, the demand for IPv6 from the users is very small. The content and service providers hold that users cannot have access to content and service through IPv6 and that why they should provide the service in this background.

Dr. Song Linjian of CFIEC stated in the article China, towards fully-connected IPv6 networks that Chicken and Egg paradox between IPv6 networks and content is just temporary and that it surely exists but not the key reason. China has already prepared itself. When the last mile problem is solved, the users will fully explode. Long ago, every telecom carrier started to strictly implement the network device procurement requirements that network devices must support IPv6 such as the IPv6 Ready Logo testing and certificating which can satisfy this requirement. However, the CE (home gateways and wireless routers, etc.) purchased by users themselves mostly do not support IPv6, which caused the last mile problem.

“When IPv6 is still burgeoning, it is hard to require the vendors and users to have the devices with IPv6-enabled and IPv6-certified. The enterprises produce mature CE Routers (Customer Edge Router, home gateway routers)that support IPv6 do not launch their products to the Chinese market in that customers do not have demand for IPv6. This has become the narrowest bottleneck that hinders the development of IPv6 fixed line users.” said the Director of the BII-SDNCTC Li Zhen with reference to the fixed line IPv6 development.

In the upcoming era of IoT, more and more devices need to be connected, and the home gateway CE routers, as the switch center of home network information and data, needs full support for IPv6. From another perspective, it can also be seen that the home gateways have won enough attention to IPv6. On March 19th 2014, international IPv6 organization IPv6 Forum and IPv6 Ready Logo committee officially announced the initiation of the IPv6 Ready CE Router Logo conformance and interoperability testing and certificating program, which marks the full support from brand-new CE Router certificating program of next generation Ipv6 deployment and commercialization. According to the statistics from IPv6 Forum, at present, there are 3000 network devices that passed the Ipv6 Ready certification. The rate of supporting IPv6 is very high. But when it comes to the home gateway CE devices, the next CE scaling testing program CE Router under the framework of IPv6 Ready Logo, only 17 devices from US Netgear, ZTE, Broadcom, etc. have passed IPv6 Ready Logo certification. As the key to access to the last mile of IPv6 in the households, the Chinese market for routing devices bears great potential. The CE Router certified devices will have stronger competitive edge to take hold of vantage ground in the next generation network deployment and commercialization.

According to the Global IPv6 Testing Center, the devices to be certified by CE Router Logo are the smart home gateways, such as the home routers, wireless routers, GPON&EPON end devices, etc. The testing content covers the core protocols (Phase-2 enhanced certificating), all the tests in DHCPv6 and RFC084. Compared to other certifications (Core, DHCPv6, Ipsecv6, SNMPv6), the certification is highly targeted at devices and much stricter. In the future, more CE routers will be certified by IPv6 and the seamless deployment of home IPv6 will be gradually realized to solve the last mile problem of the access to IPv6 by carriers. This will have far-reaching influence on the transition of the users to IPv6.

Written by Xudong Zhang, Vice President of BII Group

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$2.8 million of premium .VIP domains sold in past ten days

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2017-09-12 15:31

MMX reports strong premium sales.

New top level domain company MMX (Minds + Machines) released a statement today about sales of premium domain names in .VIP. According to the statement, the company sold $2.8 million of premium .VIP domains in the past ten days:

Minds + Machines Group Limited (AIM: MMX), one of the world’s leading owners and operators of Internet Top-Level Domains (“TLDs”), is pleased to announce that since the release of its 2017 premium inventory for China in late June 2017, premium sales in excess of $3.4million have been achieved in .vip, of which approximately $2.8million has closed in the last 10 days.

The company will release financial results for the first half of 2017 later this month, and I’m sure it will provide more detail about its .VIP sales.

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Consulting firm bought for $275,000. It was a great value.

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2017-09-12 14:51

Company gets lots of benefits for a very low price by upgrading its domain name.

Last week Sedo sold the domain name for $275,000. The Whois record showed that it was still in escrow, but today that changed and we know the buyer.

West Monroe Partners, a consulting firm, has acquired the domain name. It got a great value when you consider the value it’s getting.

The company currently uses the domain name That’s long and if you’ve just heard about the company for the first time, rather difficult to spell because of the word Monroe.

It also appears that employees’ email addresses end in Not only is a that a pain for customers to type because of its length, but it probably causes lots of misdirected email. It was also annoying for employees to say over the phone when providing their email addresses. is owned by a city of the same name in Louisiana, so shortening to that was unlikely. It also still has the spelling issue.

So the company bought for $275,000. It’s short. It has an aura of credibility. And it was a great value.

Consider the benefits the company is getting. Then consider that there are about 1,000 employees listed on LinkedIn. Get all of these benefits for a one time cost of just $275 per employee?

Yeah, that’s a great value.

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Equifax Breach Blamed on Open-Source Software Flaw

Domain industry news - Tue, 2017-09-12 02:04

Equifax has blamed a flaw in the software running its online databases for the massive breach revealed last week that has allowed hackers to steal personal information of as many as 143 million customers. Kevin Dugan reporting in the New York Post: "Hackers were able to access the info — including Social Security numbers — because there was a flaw in the open-source software created by the Apache Foundation ... STRUTS is a widely available software system that's used by about 65 percent of Fortune 100 companies, including Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic, Reader's Digest, Office Depot, and Showtime — plus the IRS, according to lgtm, a software development group."

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Some .AI domain name functions limited due to Hurricane Irma

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2017-09-11 18:38

Hurricane knocked out power in Anguilla.

Some domain name transactions for .AI domain names, which have become popular for artificial intelligence companies, are not working due to Hurricane Irma.

The hurricane hit the island nation of Anguilla, which is actually what .AI stands for. Thanks to the distributed nature of domain servers, .ai domains are still resolving. But transactions that involve interfacing with the registry (e.g new registrations and transfers) are currently not functioning., the registry’s official website, is also offline.

I reached out to Vincent Cate who manages the .AI domain in Anguilla and received what I believe is an autoresponder. It states:

Hurricane Irma took out the power grid on the island. My office is in a 32 unit building and the landlord will turn on the generator 8 am Monday. He wants to conserve fuel till he can secure more fuel and so may only run weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm Anguilla time for awhile.

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How GDPR will affect you – DNW Podcast #152

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2017-09-11 15:30

New EU regulations will have an effect on everyone in the domain industry, regardless of where they are located.

Whether you’re a domain investor, registrar or registry, the European Union’s new GDPR privacy regulations will affect you. On this epsidode, we chat with Michele Neylon of Blacknight to understand the potential impact. Also: domain peeps on the move, CentralNic’s premium sales, Namecheap sues Enom Donuts pushes forward with its case about the .web top level domain name auction.

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

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Topcoin plans ICO with goal of being loyalty program for digital goods

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2017-09-11 13:28

Company plans to use blockchain to disrupt the loyalty program business.

If you’ve registered domain names at Uniregistry over the past three years then you are familiar with Topcoin, a form of digital rewards that can be redeemed for discounts on purchases at Uniregistry. The utility of this rewards currency is about to get interesting.

Michael Blend launched TopCoin at the end of 2014 with the idea of it being a loyalty program for digital goods like domain names and hosting. Topcoin was built on blockchain, but keep in mind that this was well before the current cryptocurrency craze.

Now, in the midst of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and a run up in the value of cryptocurrencies, Topcoin is getting ready to go big.

The company, with .build founder George Minardos as CEO, is planning its ICO and will use much of the proceeds to build out Topcoin as an easy-to-use loyalty program for digital goods. It essentially lets companies create a loyalty program for free that’s based on blockchain. This was the original idea for Topcoin, but it makes a lot more sense to people now than it did back in 2014 and will finally have the infrastructure to push forward.

I recently spoke with Minardos about the company’s plans to understand how it will work and what it will mean for domain investors who own Topcoin.

Minardos stressed that Topcoin’s goal isn’t to become a speculative cryptocurrency. It also isn’t designed as a security.

“Based on our look at the markets and our interpretation of laws, we believe it’s a utility token because it’s a loyalty program,” Minardos said.

Minardos prefers to refer to the ICO as a “token generating event” in an effort to differentiate it from the madness currently going on with ICOs. Details about this will be posted on soon.

The target date for the token generating event is mid-October and Topcoin will use the ethereum erc20 protocol for creating tokens. Topcoin will likely be based on the ethereum blockchain.

Topcoin will sell 1 billion tokens up front. Another billion will be set aside for partners (e.g. registrars that offer Topcoin in return for purchases) and another billion for founders.

Existing Topcoin wallet holders (that’s the 14,000 people who have obtained Topcoin through Uniregistry) will have their current Topcoin converted into the new one at a rate of one-for-two (one existing for two new). These wallet holders will get to participate in a pre-sale of Topcoin.

So, will Topcoin holders become instant millionaires?

That’s not the point, and Minardos says it’s difficult to predict how it will play out.

“Our focus is on use,” he said. “We’re not interested in a coin that blows up because it’s the next new thing.”

While Uniregistry customers are used to converting one Topcoin for a $1 discount on purchases (up to a certain limit per purchase), it’s up to each digital goods seller to decide how much they want to “pay” for Topcoin.

In practice, people should be able to sell Topcoin on exchanges, too. It might even be applicable to aftermarket domain transactions.

We’ll have to see what happens but one thing is for sure: Topcoin is about to get a lot more interesting.

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Lessons Learned from Harvey and Irma

Domain industry news - Sat, 2017-09-09 23:28

One of the most intense natural disasters in American history occurred last week. Hurricane Harvey challenged the state of Texas, while Florida braced for Irma. As with all natural disasters in this country Americans are known to bond during times of crisis and help each other during times of need. Personally, I witnessed these behaviors during the 1989 quake in San Francisco.

You may wish to donate or get involved with hurricane Harvey relief to help the afflicted. That's great, but as we all know, we should be wary of who we connect with online. Scammers are using Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts as con games and, even more despicably, as phishbait. The FTC warned last week that there are many active relief scams in progress and noted that there always seems to be a spike in registration of bogus domains.

If you doubt a charity you are not familiar with, you are wise to think before you give. We recommend you do some common sense vetting and donate through a charities you can verify. Even better, check out the Wise Giving Alliance from the Better Business Bureau, a tool to verify legitimate charities.

In this article, we focus on a group of shameless miscreants that are profiting from the misfortune of others during times of crisis and natural disasters. We illuminate the intensity of malicious domains which were created in the days before and after disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Finally, we address what we can learn during these difficult times.

The intensity of malicious domains creation during and several days after Hurricane Harvey is appalling. On August 30th alone, several hundred domains were created with the term "harvey" in them. While not all of the registrants had malicious intent, I'm betting at least a small percentage of them did. Their goal was to extort money, data, or both from innocent victims who happened to be in harm's way, as well as from good Samaritans whose compassion for the victims made them vulnerable.

On searches of "Harvey" and "Irma" related domains, between August 28th and September 8th, thousands of such domains were created. That does not even take into account homoglyphs which will be further outlined in this article. The domain names fall into four broad categories:

  • Legal / Insurance such as Attorney, Lawyer, Claims.
  • Rebuilding such as Roofing, Construction.
  • Storm tracking such as WILLHURRICANEIRMAHIT.US
  • New or fraudulent charities using terms such as Relief, Project, Victims, Help.

The legal / insurance terms are registered a year or more in advance for every hurricane name listed. You can see a full list of future hurricane names here, listed by the National Hurricane Center. By pivoting on the name servers or registrant data, we can see the same actors register all those domains far ahead of time.

This infographic shows words that appear in domains registered in Aug and Sept so far that related to hurricane, harvey or irma.

When crises strike, one needs the best tools plus a well-trained team that knows how to maximize your use of this exceptional data. Utilizing DNS techniques that can help your company avoid onboarding fraudulent fundraisers and profiteering opportunists is vital to protecting your company reputation and the reputation of your outbound IP address ranges.

Here's a deep dive tip that few companies have discovered, but all can apply: As one part of the recursive "domain name resolution" process, the TLD registry zone file connects each domain name to authoritative name server hosts, and each authoritative name server host to an IP address. Starting with one known malicious domain name — or one of your customer domains you are vetting — you can find other domains the same actor is using, hosting on the same IPs, or registered in the past. Even the TLD registry zone glue records provides clues and the ability to cluster malicious or legit domains registered by the same company. ZoneCruncher and other tools make this technique easy to implement for any size Compliance or Investigations unit.

Using the right tools, your trained staff can spot multiple malicious hosts using the same IP or CIDR block. The lesson here is that ESPs and other organizations with a large number of customer tenants should be on high alert to the risks of onboarding clients prior to, during, and right after natural disasters.

Zetalytics Global Passive DNS has visibility on all active registered domain names in the world. For anyone wanting to glance into the recently registered "hurricane" related domain names, a list is provided free here.

Here are a few domains on our radar, that you might find interesting for Irma:

The enhanced view of global DNS activity gives NOC, SOC and intel teams the ability to proactively tweak algorithms to flag terms related to the disaster.

Malicious Look-a-Like Domains Target Florida During Irma:

I heard concerning news from the Veteran Powered Cyber Notifiers project today. They are seeing a rash of new "look-a-like" domains seeking to take advantage of the Floridians attention to the impending hurricane.

Real websites for first responders, insurance companies, construction, medical and other vital organizations in the Florida and Texas areas — are being targeted by these malicious spoofed domain registrations.
Legit DomainLook-a-like DomainHomoglyphic (see the L instead of the i) ( L vs of the i) (two V vs w) ( an r and n vs m) (r and n vs m) (L next to the inc) vs i) (u and o interchanged)
Conclusions and Resources:

By reviewing DNS data over years of historical data, we see the patterns of actors — good and bad — who register domains to take advantage of disasters. Tools like ZoneCruncher enable us to pivot on email addresses in whois records, find clusters of related domains sharing a name server, and discover the history of types of domains hosted on each IP address used by scammers and good guys.

Using a hostname age checker, we were able to quickly sort and separate the new — probably fraudulent charity appeals — from old possibly legit domains that simply contain words related to disasters and storm names. Sharing this knowledge and data with the community means multiplying the positive effects of what we can do together, including the Veteran Powered Cyber Notify project that identifies trends in malicious domain registrations. Here again is that link to the list of domains, should you be curious or in a position to take some positive action.

Side note: We're having a lively discussion on our private "slack channel" about this and other hot topics including the Equifax breach. Email me if you want an invite to listen in or participate

Written by Fred Tabsharani, Director of Data Access at Zetalytics

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More under: Cybercrime, DNS, Domain Names

Categories: News and Updates

Hurricane Irma is On the Way So We are Hunkering Down - Our View from West Central Florida

DN Journal - Fri, 2017-09-08 18:49
We are in for a rocky ride this weekend. Hurricane Irma is on the way and she will not be pleasant to deal with. We expect to be absent for a few days while we ride out the storm.
Categories: News and Updates

The One Reason Net Neutrality Can't Be Implemented

Domain industry news - Fri, 2017-09-08 18:11

Suppose for a moment that you are the victim of a wicked ISP that engages in disallowed "throttling" under a "neutral" regime for Internet access. You like to access streaming media from a particular "over the top" service provider. By coincidence, the performance of your favoured application drops at the same time your ISP launches a rival content service of its own.

You then complain to the regulator, who investigates. She finds that your ISP did indeed change their traffic management settings right at the point that the "throttling" began. A swathe of routes, including the one to your preferred "over the top" application, have been given a different packet scheduling and routing treatment.

It seems like an open-and-shut case of "throttling" resulting in a disallowed "neutrality violation". Or is it?

Here's why the regulator's enforcement order will never survive the resulting court case and expert witness scrutiny.

The regulator is going to have to prove that the combination of all of the network algorithms and settings intentionally resulted in a specific performance degradation. This is important because in today's packet networks performance is an emergent phenomenon. It is not engineered to known safety margins, and can (and does) shift continually with no intentional cause.

That means it could just be a coincidence that it changed at that moment. (Any good Bayesian will also tell you that we're assuming a "travesty of justice" prior.)

What net neutrality advocates are implicitly saying is this: by inspecting the code and configuration (i.e. more code) of millions of interacting local processes in a network, you can tell what global performance is supposed to result. Furthermore, that a change is one of those settings deliberately gave a different and disallowed performance, and you can show it's not mere coincidence.

In the 1930s, Alan Turing proved that you can't even (in general) inspect a single computational process and tell whether it will stop. This is called the Halting Problem. This is not an intuitive result. The naive observer without a background in computer science might assume it is trivially simple to inspect an arbitrary program and quickly tell whether it would ever terminate.

What the telco regulator implementing "neutrality" faces is a far worse case: the Performance Problem. Rather than a single process, we have lots. And instead of a simple binary yes/no to halting, we have a complex multi-dimensional network and application performance space to inhabit.

I hardly need to point out the inherently hopeless nature of this undertaking: enforcing "neutrality" is a monumental misunderstanding of what is required to succeed. Yet the regulatory system for broadband performance appears to have been infiltrated and overrun by naive observers without an undergraduate-level understanding of distributed computing.

Good and smart people think they are engaged in a neutrality "debate", but the subject is fundamentally and irrevocably divorced from technical reality. There's not even a mention of basic ideas like non-determinism in the academic literature.

It's painful to watch this regulatory ship of fools steam at full speed for the jagged rocks of practical enforcement.

It is true that the Halting Problem can be solved in limited cases. It is a real systems management issue in data centres, and a lot of research work has been done to identify those cases. If some process has been running for a long time, you don't want it sitting there consuming electricity forever with no value being created.

Likewise, the Performance Problem can be solved in limited cases. However, the regulator is not in a position to insist that enforcement actions are restricted to those narrow cases. It is unavoidably faced with the general case. And the general case is, in a very strict sense, impossible to solve.

The Halting Problem is a subset of the Performance Problem. If you could solve the latter, then you could solve the former. You can't solve the Halting Problem, so the Performance Problem is also unsolvable. QED.

This single reason from computer science is enough to tell us that "net neutrality" is a technical and regulatory dead end. The only option is to turn around and walk away. You can argue as much as you like about its moral merits, but mathematics has already decided it's not happening in the real world.

So if not "neutrality", then what else?

The only option is to focus on the end-to-end service quality. The local traffic management is an irrelevance and complete distraction. Terms like "throttling" are technically meaningless. The lawgeneers who have written articles and books saying otherwise are unconsciously incompetent at computer science.

We computer scientists call this viable alternative "end-to-end" approach a "quality floor". The good news is that we now have a practical means to measure it and hard science to model it.

Maybe we should consciously and competently try it?

Written by Martin Geddes, Founder, Martin Geddes Consulting Ltd

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Net Neutrality, Policy & Regulation

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Heading to WHD next week? Here are some interesting sessions.

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2017-09-08 14:32

From net neutrality to blockchain, here are three interesting sessions at next week’s conference.

WorldHostingDays is heading to Las Vegas next week and much of the domain name industry will be there. If you will be at the conference and have something to talk about, drop me a line to set up a meeting.

Here are a couple sessions I think will be interesting:

Mike Masnick, CEO of TechDirt – This will be particularly timely given his court victory over a libel claim.

Panel on Net Neutrality – Some of the speakers on this panel were involved in the recent scuffle over white supremacist and hate sites, including CloudFlare and DreamHost. I think that will be very relevant to the discussion of net neutrality, even if it wasn’t the original intent of the session.

Ian Khan – Futurist Ian Khan promises to separate hype from reality on topics like blockchain and AI.

This will be the first WHD.usa since GoDaddy acquired the company that runs the show. Its fingerprint is clearly on some of the sessions, so it will be interesting to see how this is received by attendees.

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Equifax Hacked, Nearly Half of US Population Affected

Domain industry news - Thu, 2017-09-07 23:37

Rick Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax Inc., on cybersecurity incident involving consumer information. Equifax has established a dedicated website,, to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.In an announcement today, credit reporting giant Equifax revealed a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers. The historic data breach has exposed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers, Equifax said in the statement. "In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed." Equifax has also identified unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents. The company says it has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax's core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

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Fact Checking the Recent News About Google in Cuba

Domain industry news - Thu, 2017-09-07 22:52

The Cuban Internet is constrained by the Cuban government and to a lesser extent the US government, not Google.

Google's Cuba project has been in the news lately. Mary Anastasia O'Grady wrote a Wall Street Journal article called "Google's Broken Promise to Cubans," criticising Google for being "wholly uninterested in the Cuban struggle for free speech" and assisting the Castro government.

The article begins by taking a shot at President Obama who "raved" about an impending Google-Cuba deal "to start setting up more Wi-Fi access and broadband access on the island."

(The use of the word "raved" nearly caused me to dismiss the article and stop reading, but I forced myself to continue).

The next paragraph tells us "Google has become a supplier of resources to the regime so that Raúl Castro can run internet (sic) at faster speeds for his own purposes."

The article goes on to tell us that Brett Perlmutter of Google "boasted" that Google was "thrilled to partner" with a regime-owned museum, featuring a Castro-approved artist.

(Like "raved," the use of the word "boasted" seemed Trump-worthy, but I kept reading).

O'Grady also referred to a July 2015 Miami Herald report that Perlmutter had pitched a proposal to build an island-wide digital infrastructure that the Cuban government rejected.

Next came the buried lead — it turns out this article was precipitated by blocked Cuban access to the pro-democracy Web site

Perlmutter tweeted that the site was blocked because of the US embargo on Cuba.

Well, that is enough. Let's do some fact checking.

President Obama's "raving:" It is true that President Obama made a number of (in retrospect) overly-optimistic predictions during his Cuba trip, but the use of the word "raving" and the obligatory shot at President Obama were clues that O'grady might not be impartial and objective.

Google as a supplier of resources: This presumably is a reference to Google's caching servers in Cuba. While these servers marginally speed access to Google applications like Gmail and YouTube, it is hard to see how that helps Raul Castro. It has been reported that Cuba agreed "not censor, surveil or interfere with the content stored" on Google's caching servers. Furthermore, Gmail is encrypted and YouTube is open to all comers — for and against the Cuban government.

Brett Perlmutter's boasting: about partnering with a Cuban artist's installation of a free WiFi hotspot. I agree that the WiFi hotspot at the studio of the Cuban artist Kcho is an over-publicized drop in the bucket — much ado about not much.

Google's rejected offer of an island-wide digital infrastructure: I have seen many, many (now I'm channeling Trump) references to this "offer," but have no idea what was offered. Google won't tell me and I've seen no documentation on the offer.

Google's blocking of It is true that Google blocks access to Furthermore, they block access from Cuba to all sites that are hosted on their infrastructure. Microsoft also blocks Cuban access to sites they host; however, Amazon and Rackspace do not. could solve their problem by moving their site to Amazon, Rackspace or a different hosting service that does not block Cuban access.

Perlmutter blames the embargo: I don't want to give Google a pass on this. The next question is "why does Amazon allow Cuban access and Google does not?" They are both subject to the same US laws. IBM is a more interesting case — they did not block access at first but changed their policy later.

There may be some reason for IBM and Google behaving differently than Amazon and Rackspace. I asked both IBM and Google for an explanation, but neither replied.

It should also be pointed out that the Cuban government also blocks access to some websites so they could counter a move by if they wished.

Before publishing this post, I wanted to confirm my understanding of the situation and I found something I cannot explain. It turns out that the Khan Academy, an educational site with both Spanish and English versions that I would love to see available in Cuba, uses both Amazon and Google as hosts.

When I accessed them from the US, I was directed to Amazon for the English site and Google for the Spanish site, but I got strange results from friends in Cuba. One told me he was unable to access either site from a government enterprise but was able to access both from a WiFi park. Another told me he was unable to access either from a university, the medical network, Mednet, or a WiFi park. I had them try the Amazon IP address I was directed to in the US (, but that did not work in Cuba either.

Well, that remains a mystery, which maybe some reader in Cuba can clear up.

Well, those are the "facts" as I see them. The bottom line for me is that the Cuban government, not Google, is constraining the Cuban Internet. (I've talked about Cuban constraints in several earlier posts, for example, here and here). The US embargo and Trump's policy have also set the Cuban Internet back. That being said, I would like to know why Google feels compelled to block Cuban access when Amazon does not.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

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More under: Access Providers, Censorship, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation

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German coffee domain name sells for €200,000

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2017-09-07 21:00

German coffee domain name sells for twice what it sold for in 2014.

OPAG GmbH, a coffee wholesale distribution specialist, has acquired the domain name through Sedo for €200,000. Kaffee is German for coffee.

According to Namebio, this is the tenth highest publicly reported sale in Germany’s .de domain name of all time and the highest since 2014.

This is the second time Sedo has sold the domain name It sold the domain name for €100,000 in 2014, and now double that amount three years later.

Sedo broker Frank Tillmanns handled the sale.

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