Friday, September 28, 2007

Dot-Name Becomes Cybercrime Haven

Ryan Singel writes on Wired News:

The company that controls the .name registry is charging for access to domain registration information, a step that security researchers say frustrates their ability to police the internet and creates a haven for hackers who run internet scams.

When security researchers investigate spam and phishing activity on the internet, they rely on special Whois directories, which list the owner of a domain name, their hosting service and their contact information.

They can use the information to track down who is responsible for a particular scam and to notify innocent webmasters if a portion of their site has been hijacked by black-hat hackers.

ICANN, which sets the rules for the internet's top-level domain names such as .com and .net, has traditionally required registrars to make Whois data publicly searchable as a condition of the companies' right to sell domain names.

But Global Name Registry, or GNR, which administers domain names ending in .name (that are intended for use by individuals e.g., johndoe.name), won the right to create tiered levels of Whois access, where public searches show very little information beyond what registrar sold the name and what name servers the site uses.

More here.

1 Comments:

At Fri Sep 28, 02:27:00 PM PDT, Anonymous hakon haugnes said...

The .name Whois functionality is a compromise between the ICANN policies and the legacy of Whois as a service anyone could use to look up anyone, and the EU Data Protection Act.

It is an important principle in the Act that people must be able to register for the service without thereby necessarily disclosing their private information to the world. Compare with the ability of getting a phone number without necessarily putting it and all personal details in the White Pages. From a privacy point of view, this means that .name Registrants are more protected from data harvesters and spammers on .name than on most other domains. At the same time, we, as much as others, want to ensure that people violating laws and policies can be tracked down and sites taken down when required.

The compromise position is the .name Whois - where anyone can get basic, non-personal information, that has real technical and operational use. With the basic information, the Registrar, host and nameserver operators can be tracked down and the domain can be taken off line. However, for those in need of detailed personal information, the .name Whois provides it, provided that the requestor can be identified, either via 1) a token payment, or 2) a contract with Global Name Registry for persistent access for special interest groups, like law enforcement. The latter is free, the former a token $2, which raises the barrier for spammers so as to make spam uneconomical, and is low enough to be irrelevant for genuinely needed requests (which as it turns out, are extremely few).

So in summary, to be clear - there is no payment required for those entering into the Whois Extensive Agreement, which offers full, instant manual access to those with legitimate interests.

We believe this is the best possible compromise between two very different positions, one legal (EU Data Protection Act), the other legacy (Whois as a fully open tool for anyone) - on one side, that personal information should be protected, and on the other side, that bad registrations and illegal conduct should be identified and remedied.


Hakon Haugnes
President
Global Name Registry

 

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