Category Archives: Opinion

Chris Disspain Looks At The Highlights of 2019 And What His Final Year On The ICANN Board Might Hold

In the latest Domain Pulse Q&A series looking at the year in review and year ahead, we speak to ICANN board member Chris Disspain. Chris discusses the progress of the next round of new gTLD applications, the challenges of GDPR has thrown at ICANN relating to WHOIS, a 2019 highlight being finalisation of the new strategic plan especially in the way the ICANN community focused and pulled together to get it done and then what the future may hold for him after he completes his term on the ICANN board. He also would like to see a little more kindness “in the ICANN context”.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?

Chris Disspain: The challenge of GDPR and its relevance to WHOIS has consumed an immense amount of time in 2019. And universal acceptance is a real issue for many especially but not exclusively in the IDN world.

The finalisation of the new strategic plan has been a highlight especially the way that the ICANN community focused and pulled together to get it done. And the streamlining of reviews work!

There are always lowlights. Calling them out isn’t necessarily helpful.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?

CD: Enjoying my last year as a board member, making a difference and riding off into the sunset….. only to return later in 2021 wearing a different hat…..Or perhaps not!

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

CD: Every issue has both a challenges and opportunities  … Some examples for us are GDPR, various contractual matters, the sub-pro work, ccNSO work on retirement of ccTLDs, the ongoing work on IGOs acronyms, the ongoing community work-load and so on.

DP: How have new gTLDs fared in 2019?

CD: Some good, some bad I expect. But given that different gTLDs have different measures of success that’s quite a hard question to address. A brand likely doesn’t care about registration levels. A geographic may have a limited market and be happy with that. I guess the only real test will be to see what sort of applications come in in a next round.

DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?

CD: Significant but it’s a long track that needs to be carefully navigated. As a board member (actually the only current board member) who was on the board from the beginning of the last gTLD round I know many of the issues that will need to be dealt with in the updated policy. Some of these are complicated and contentious but I’m hopeful that with the extraordinary work of the Sub-pro WG and the support of the community generally we’ll get there reasonably soon.

DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?

CD: Well, in the ICANN context, I think a little more kindness would be good. And a ‘fix’ for the structural challenges within the GNSO would make a huge difference to the ability of the ICANN multi-stakeholder model to deal effectively and efficiently with the constantly changing industry dynamic.

Chris was also the founding CEO of Australia’s ccTLD policy and regulatory body, auDA.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

Q&As in the 2019 series were with:

  • EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
  • Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
  • Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
  • DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
  • DENIC (here)
  • Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
  • nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
  • Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
  • CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
  • CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
  • Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
  • GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
  • Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
  • Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
  • ICANN board member Chris Disspain (here).

What Happens To A Brand With A .BRAND When They Change Their Company Name Asks Afnic’s Loïc Damilaville

What happens when a Brand changes its company name, which has a .brand new gTLD, such as through a takeover, merger or just a name change? There’s currently no quick process in place to allow them to obtain a new gTLD to reflect the change. This is one of the many issues raised by Loïc Damilaville, Market Research Manager at Afnic who manages the French ccTLD as well as 17 new gTLDs, in today’s Q&A looking at the year just gone and the year ahead.

Damilaville delves into many issues facing the industry including growth, or lack of growth, rates for top-level domains, the financial issues forcing some gTLD operators to sell their gTLDS, the vulnerability of some TLDs to Chinese domainers, future rounds of new gTLD applications, challenges faced by smaller TLDs, particularly new gTLDs. Here he’s concerned about how to get registrars to carry them and without a presence on platforms, Damilaville is also concerned about how the industry is flourishing for many of the established players, but quite hostile to newcomers and real innovations.

There’s a lot more in Damilaville’s Q&A, so please read on!

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?

Loïc Damilaville: In terms of trends, 2019 has seen the continuing decline of Legacy TLDs, apart from .COM which is enjoying an enviable – even if surprising – growth rate. Surprising because with its nearly 150 million domains it still grows by 5% a year. Is this single TLD “aspirating” the market? What is driving this growth?

“Penny TLDs”, that is to say TLDs whose domain names are “given” or sold at a very low price, have increased their volumes, but we doubt that these millions of domain names are actually used. They shall be considered as highly volatile and not relevant to assess the good or bad health of the market.

The market remains vulnerable to the domaining effect: in 2019, lots of Chinese domainers have transferred their investments from new gTLDs to .TW and this one has literally exploded in a few months. At the present time, we see the reverse effect with a .TW affected by deletions and a .ICU boosted, quite at the same time, by new creations. It may mean that these domaining waves are done by a relatively small number of coordinated big investors.

This phenomenon affects the stability of the market. For instance one may consider that new gTLDs have boomed at the end of 2019 but this boom is almost 100% caused by the .ICU effect, with most of the other new gTLDs experiencing a decrease in their new registrations. A global improvement in volumes doesn’t mean that most of the players are doing well.

This situation drives some registries faced with financial difficulties to sell their TLDs to big players which are also fighting increasingly on the back-end registry market. What is interesting as regards to these back-end activities is that they are researched not only by registries of small TLDs unable to get some costly technologies and infrastructures by themselves, but also by registries of very big TLDs, maybe for the same reasons, with a difference of scale. This is the sign of a kind of professionalisation of the market, but also of a concentration process, with a handful of players on the worldwide level. On the local or regional level, lots of middle-sized players are managing some geoTLDs and/or .BRAND TLDs.

The concentration continues at the registry and registrar levels, some back-ends being both of them. This phenomenon requires (and is allowed by) the growing presence of investment funds in the capital of these players. Although made with dubious methods, the .ORG takeover by Ethos Capital is just one example of this structural evolution of the market.

The Second Round is a topic, but more an icy one than a hot one. We should wait for Winter to leave ;-).

Among the very hot topics of 2019 we have noticed security issues, fights against all kind of DNS abuses, the painful consequences of GDPR for the IP community, and the emergence of services combining data, monitoring and qualification of domain names in terms of notoriety, risks etc.

Referring to our “7As” model (*) we shall consider that 2019 has not seen great improvements in Awareness, Amplitude, Advantages, Access, Adoption, Activity nor Affect. The domain name market may be a little too self-oriented and that could explain some of the difficulties met by new TLDs to “meet their market”.

We have developed a key success factors for Internet extensions  evaluation grid which you can see here: htttps://www.afnic.fr/en/resources/blog/key-success-factors-for-internet-extensions-an-evaluation-grid-1.html

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?

LD: The main trends of the market should remain the same: decline in Legacy gTLDs, and maybe a 4 percent growth for .COM due to their forecast price increase.

ccTLDs will be affected by the .TW and .UK deletes, but apart from this phenomenon the growth should not be above 3-4%.

New gTLDs will still be split between high volumes generic TLDs and the others. Geos seem to be stronger than Communities and little Generics but the average volume remains low. Brands will continue to progress slowly but surely. They are the most promising segment of this market.

Security, monitoring and data issues will have more and more audience in relation with the DNS Abuse efforts. Tools designed to manage the GDPR limitations will enjoy a strong interest since the needs for identifying and tracking “abusers” have not vanished, those “abusers” feeling encouraged by the anonymity guaranteed by GDPR and the failure of ICANN to provide any reliable, quick and low-cost solution to rights owners.

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

LD: The big challenge for domain names is to exist by themselves, that is to say, to be actually perceived by users as added-value components of their internet presence and not just something technical, necessary to be reached on the internet, whether it is a .COM, .FR or .ANYTHING.

Another big challenge is for the registrars to find their way into a more diversified domain name world. One of the main burdens for new gTLDs is to reach their potential customers, a task they can’t do if they are not referenced by the registrars which actually reach these customers. But registrars seem to lack enthusiasm to sell new gTLDs which are not at first sought by their customers, and a vicious circle is in force: big registrars proposes to their customers the TLDs they already know (and buy), and the new gTLDs are kept in the shadows and not bought as the customers don’t know them very well and do not trust them.

We may also mention the “Next Round” as a challenge for the ICANN Community, but – in relation with what precedes – also for the market players in general. In the current organisation of the market, more generic TLDs will create only more confusion without being able to reach their customers. The situation of .BRANDs and .GEOs are very different because in both cases the “market” already exists: big companies will become used to consider that having their own TLD is a “must have”. And GeoTLDs are appealing to the feelings of proximity and local pride of their “natural” customers.

This leads to another big challenge. Apart from the high-volume oriented ones, the new or future TLDs will be more and more focused on niches, whether they be geographical or sectorial. This means that we will see a lot of TLDs with very low volumes compared to those we are used to see. In order to allow them to be financially viable, there MUST be a deep thought about the global financial organisation of the market.

At the ICANN level, the $25,000 flat fee is a burden that strangles many little TLDs and obliges them to sell their domain names at uncompetitive prices compared to .COM and big ccTLDs.

At the back-end level, things are more difficult to analyse but we should see in the future the emergence of some low-cost solutions targeting little TLDs and some value-added solutions targeting big TLDs or TLDs wanting to propose very specific services to their registrants. The homogeneous market as we know it nowadays is probably condemned but the transition to new models will take a long time. The growing influence of financial people in the management of TLDs should be an opportunity by providing some new means, but it can also be a threat because innovations may imperil the forecasted Return on Investment rates. When you buy a cash cow, you do not want it to become a risky bet.

DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?

LD: There will be progress but it would be hazardous to say that everything should be settled at the end of the year. One main question – that is not addressed by the focus on process – is to ask what kind of «new round» we really want, and basically if we want a «round» or a continuous process.

It seems very logical and strategically important to allow the .BRANDs to benefit from a special, expedited and permanent process as soon as the candidates are eligible to certain rules avoiding «optimization» by some «smart» guys. There are lots of reasons in favour of this special process: these TLDs are for internal use only, and since the big companies are often changing their names, creating some new trademarks, etc., they should be able to change their .BRANDs when they need to do so. For the time being, having a .BRAND is a strategic strength if you intend to keep the same name for the next decades, but it can also become a trap if you are obliged to change your company’s name because of a merger or any other event.

The Geo-TLDs should also be allowed fast procedures if they are requested by legitimate authorities.

The fact that ICANN is only able to provide a «round» every ten years is not a proof of its efficiency. That said, we are aware that it depends strongly on its own Community and should not be considered the only responsible of these delays.

DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?

LD: Lots of the points we could address have already been talked about. The main issue is that some problems or deficiencies, or even some threats to some players, are benefitting others, and reciprocally. The situation of the domain name industry results mostly from compromises built through power relations between its members and their «external» partners such as governments, right owners, customers etc.

These compromises are not fully optimal and many of them are so weak that they are constantly challenged by the dissatisfied parties. One may remark that it is the story of life: but the parties involved should make an effort to reach a long-term win-win deal more than seeking for deals which only protect their own interests in the short term.

The global situation for this market – still flourishing for the established players, but quite hostile to newcomers and real innovations – would be improved by a new approach of the challenges it faces. It is still waiting for its «New Deal» and will probably still wait for a long time, not for the better.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

Q&As in the 2019 series were with:

  • EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
  • Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
  • Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
  • DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
  • DENIC (here)
  • Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
  • nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
  • Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
  • CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
  • CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
  • Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
  • GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
  • Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
  • Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
  • ICANN board member Chris Disspain (here).

Investing in Privacy Shows Benefits Averaging 2.7 Times Investment: Cisco

Organisations, on average, receive benefits 2.7 times their investment, and more than 40% are seeing benefits that are at least twice that of their privacy spend according to Cisco’s 2020 Data Privacy Benchmark Study. Privacy has become a big issue globally in recent years, particularly following the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that caused domain name registrars and registries to make major changes to their practices.

The Cisco study, released in observance of International Data Privacy Day, also found that up from 40% last year, over 70% of organisations now say they receive significant business benefits from privacy efforts beyond compliance, including better agility, increased competitive advantage and improved attractiveness to investors, and greater customer trust.

Other benefits included companies with higher accountability scores (as assessed using the Centre for Information Policy Leadership’s Accountability Wheel, a framework for managing and assessing organisational maturity) experience lower breach costs, shorter sales delays, and higher financial returns while 82% of organisations see Privacy Certifications as a Buying Factor. These included privacy certifications such as the ISO 27701,  EU/Swiss-US Privacy Shield, and APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules system becoming an important buying factor when selecting a third-party vendor. India and Brazil topped the list with 95% of respondents agreeing external certifications are now an important factor.

In a blog post, Robert Waitman, Director, Data Privacy Security and Trust Office at Cisco said “the results of this study highlight that privacy is good for business, beyond any compliance requirements.” Waitman writes Cisco recommends organisations:

  • Invest in privacy beyond the legal minimum; most organizations are seeing very positive returns on their privacy spending.
  • Work to obtain external privacy certifications; these have become an important factor in the buying process.
  • Build in privacy accountability and maturity to achieve security benefits, reduced sales delays, and higher returns.

Cisco’s 2020 Data Privacy Benchmark Study is their third annual look into corporate data privacy practices worldwide and shows growing tangible benefits for businesses that adopt strong privacy practices.

The study is based on results from a double-blind survey of over 2,800 security professionals in organisations of various sizes across 13 countries. It provides deep insight into the state of privacy a year and a half after the effective date of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), widely considered a turning point on how organisations control and manage the use of personal data. Customer demands for increased data protection and privacy, the ongoing threat of data breaches and misuse by both unauthorised and authorised users, and preparation for the GDPR and similar laws around the globe spurred many organisations to make considerable privacy investments – which are now delivering strong returns.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introduced in May 2018 but adopted in 2016, has been a focus in the domain name world due to required changes to contact information that has been required for WHOIS and ICANN’s ham-fisted attempts to deal with the situation which led to ICANN losing multiple court actions and exemptions provided to many registrars located within the EU regarding information they were required to collect under their Registrar Accreditation Agreements. Additionally, almost all, if not all, country code top level domain (ccTLD) registries located either within the EU or who allowed EU citizens to register their domains were required to make changes as to the information they required registrars to collect upon registering a domain name.

For more information, see:

Use of .BRANDS and Efforts To Thwart Domain Name Abuse Industry Highlights For DOTZON’s Katrin Ohlmer

Criminal activities continue to be an issue and challenge for the domain name industry, and it’s one of the main issues addressed in today’s Q&A with Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH. Ohlmer cites it as a highlight and lowlight – a highlight because the industry is attempting to tackle domain name abuse and a lowlight with phishing, malware, botnets and pharming being threats to consumers putting the whole industry in a bad light and seemingly not interested in fixing the issue. Ohlmer also sees the growth in usage of .brand new gTLDs as another highlight while she says the whole domain industry could improve in terms of customer experience and customer-centric marketing and communications.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2019 in the domain name industry, both for you and/or the industry in general?

Katrin Ohlmer:

Highlights

A new awareness has been reached within the industry that many registries and registrars are responsible and taking actions against abuse, including the “Framework to Mitigate Abuse”. We started to communicate our efforts better to the community and will continue these efforts in 2020.

We noticed a growing use of domain names of .brands including the likes of .audi, .dvag and .mma – all with well beyond 1,000 registered domain names. We spotted quite a number of .brand domains “in the wild” – in print advertising, on vehicles and social media ads.

Lowlights

The ever-present existence of phishing, malware, botnets and pharming threats to consumers puts the whole industry in a bad light seemingly not interested in fixing this issue. The industry has to improve its communication activities within the community and to all stakeholders in 2020.

In 2020, we would like ICANN to focus again on their mission “to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems”.

Challenges

GDPR brought to our industry new challenges and burdens. GDPR and its consequences are an asset for our industry that personal data are not published anymore. Even though this negatively affects the interests of the trademark industry.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2020?

KO: I’m really looking forward to welcoming the ICANN community to Hamburg in Autumn and showcasing the broad use of .hamburg domain names in the city. With and ICANN meeting taking place only for the second time ever, it will be a great opportunity for the local and national Internet community to meet the ICANN community.

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

KO: As the next round of new TLDs is still ahead of us, .brands including some of our customers have the opportunity to showcase the many usage scenarios which they have already implemented and will be implemented in 2020.

The whole industry has to increase their communication efforts about DNS Abuse to demonstrate that they take abuse seriously. Further debates are likely whether registries and registrars will mitigate abuse beyond DNS like counterfeiting, but hopefully ICANN will stay within its remits.

Further consolidation will happen between registries, registrars and vertically integrated groups. We might also see further investments from equity investment companies within the industry.

Tech trends like Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, Internet of Things will improve our industry – whether process-wise, with new products or communication channels.

The topic how ICANN will consider in its actions the Public Interest – not only at the Board level, but also within the wider community – will be a challenge. A first step has been made with the proposal drafted by the Board, and further activities will likely happen in 2020.

DP: How have new gTLDs fared in 2019?

KO: We observed that the diversity of TLDs being actively used across the globe is slowly but constantly increasing. Therefore we expect a steady uptake over the next few years and establishing the new gTLDs as a valid alternative to former TLDs.

A number of the new gTLDs are doing very well – they are chosen by users because they have a meaning like .realestate, .consulting and .rich, some provide local and regional identity to users like .berlin, .bzh and .nyc, and some represent the brand online like .audi, .google and .edeka. The more generic TLDs are, the less differentiation and meaning they have making it harder to develop a long-term value proposition beyond the price.

DP: What progress do you see on a new round of applications for new gTLDs in 2020?

KO: We are currently finalising the last open issues within the Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group. I expect that the substantive progress of our ongoing work will continue in 2020, leading to a final report being sent to the GNSO Council and later to the ICANN Board for approval.

DP: What one thing would you like to see addressed or changed in the domain name industry?

KO: I tend to repeat myself: I still think the whole domain industry could improve in terms of customer experience and customer-centric marketing and communications including lower barriers to set-up a website, easing the whole domain registration process, and setting up an email account.

For decades, customers were attracted by prices. This led to many registrations with no or very limited usage. Now it’s time to encourage existing customers to use the product they bought and improve processes for new customers making it easier to bring their website with their new domain online.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

Fraudsters Obtained $30 Million Worth of IP addresses in South Africa

[HEFICED news release] In September, South African media revealed an elaborate fraud scheme where IPv4 addresses reportedly worth at least $30 million on the second-hand market were stolen or misappropriated from large multinational companies based in South Africa.

The registered owners were mostly not aware of any violation of their properties, as the attackers exploited complex ownership structures. In addition, the legitimate owners were often unfamiliar with the considerable asset value presented by their stocks of IPv4 addresses.

Among the address sets stolen were a number of especially valuable “legacy blocks”, sets of IP addresses that were assigned before the establishment of regional internet registries (RIRs) and are thus completely free to use.

“We often notice that companies that obtained large pools of IPv4s when they were still readily available are not aware that they are now quite valuable. Thousands of addresses used to be free, now a single legacy address can be worth as much as $30,” comments Vincentas Grinius, CEO of Heficed, a company offering network infrastructure solutions that center on the procurement and management of IP addresses.

IPv4 fraud has become an increasingly pressing issue in the past decade. This is because the omnipresent IP addresses are actually a finite resource. Their original sources, the RIRs serving a continental region each, have all nearly run out of original, free-to-use address blocks within the last ten years, with AFRINIC being the only one still allocating them with relative ease.

Since IPs are localized, however, African addresses only serve limited use – to operate a server within Europe or America, a user needs a European or American IP. This is especially relevant for latency-dependent customers, like those who operate within fields of tight competition.

Whoever needs IPv4 addresses thus has to obtain them on the second-hand market. Like in any commodity market, fraud constitutes a problem, too.

Even in highly-regulated jurisdictions like the United States, fraudsters still go after the high-value resource. With proper attention and dedication, even stolen addresses can be recovered, but this often takes considerable time and legal investments. Most importantly, it is often impossible for large-scale corporate owners to properly track IPv4 ownership themselves.

“As with all complex, immaterial goods, like stocks or virtual assets, intermediary network infrastructure providers fulfil more than just the function of traders. They market, manage and care for their clients’ resources,” says Grinius.

Dealing with technicalities like IP addresses is often the least priority large companies have, if they are aware of the issue at all.

“The news from South Africa clearly shows that oversight is the main issue. Mostly without notice, IPv4s have become a hugely profitable opportunity that can be utilized if the proper care is taken. Heficed is among the specialist companies that offers this oversight and care, and thus provides security to clients who might not even have known that their assets were in danger,” Grinius adds.

Heficed believes that companies must take charge of their own IPv4-security, since institutional help is unlikely to arrive. Officially, the protocol is being phased-out in favour of IPv6, a process that has only very slowly advanced since IPv6’s introduction in 1998. This long-term solution is still far off: according to Google’s own statistics, less than 30% of users have access to their services using IPv6.

“For the time being,” Grinius concludes, “the only way to avoid potentially ruinous security breaches is to work with trustworthy partners in procuring and managing IPv4 addresses. With high demand encouraging fraud, the existing authorities are simply overstrained.”

This HEFICED news release was sourced from: https://www.heficed.com/press-releases/fraudsters-obtained-30-million-worth-of-ip-addresses-in-south-africa-experts-comments

NamesCon Crowdsourcing Session Submissions

NamesCon Global has grown over the years to become the largest annual domain-industry conference. It’s gone from being a domain investor-centric gathering to an event for everything domain-related, from channel providers and software vendors to domain investors and end-customers. And now as part of that growth they’ve moved to crowdsourcing for submissions for some of their sessions for this year’s theme: 360 Degrees Around the Dot.

The move from Las Vegas is also a reinvention of sorts: they’re going to Austin to establish the Domain Economic Forum, taking a broader and deeper look at the ecosystem in which we work and strive to innovate.

NamesCon is not looking for pitches of specific products or solutions but rather they want to see an industry overview, surfacing potential large-scale opportunities over the next decade. Successful submissions will round out the current programme.

NamesCon explain they’re looking for submissions in the following three clusters:

Quantifying the Domain Ecosystem

What is the true size of the domain industry? They explain that several parts of the ecosystem are not quantified—at least not yet. In particular we’re thinking of the secondary domain market: the opacity here is due to the fact that, for several reasons, most secondary-market transactions are not reported.

They’re seeking session ideas that will help a broader audience to understand the size and scope of the domain industry as a whole, and specifically in the secondary market—and the opportunities that lie within.

Big-Picture Market Opportunities

They want to dig more deeply into liquid domains as digital assets or a store of value, such as long-tail registrations for brand protection. They also want to explore the future of identity management, as well as next-generation DNS services as a driver for the domain industry: Right now, email and websites are based on domains, but what comes next?

The Buyer’s Perspective

NamesCon want as many buyers as possible at the Domain Economic Forum, and this means a diversity of needs and use cases. They’re looking for buyers from various backgrounds and industries to talk about the experience buying domains from investors; as well as how they approach brand protection. They want to learn more about real-life buying behaviour, budgeting, and other factors that make or break a deal.

To submit session ideas click here.

NamesCon 2020 Dates (Slightly) Change For A Day At The Beach

NamesCon Global logo

NamesCon Global have announced a slight change in the dates for their 2020 event to be held in Austin, Texas, for the first time, from 29 January to 1 February, a 3 day delay on the previously announced dates. And the reason for the change, in part, is partly because of a day at the beach.

“Our NamesCon Europe 2019 Beach Day was such a huge success that we knew we had to do a dedicated fun day in Austin,” said NamesCon CEO Soeren von Varchmin. “Since our program for that day can only be done on a weekend, we’ve had to shift the event dates to 29-February 1. So it starts a few days later than before.” (Also, they say they can’t mess with Super Bowl Sunday)

NamesCon will kick off on Wednesday the 29th with Beginner and Expert tracks as well as the opening reception. Then NamesConGlobal moves into two action-packed days of programming. These will include the exhibition hall and the famous live domain auction. It will wrap up with a day of fun and networking “out of the office”, so to speak.

“I can’t tell you yet what the fun day will be,” said Head of NamesCon Helga Neumer. “It’s still a surprise!”

“The date change also allows us to better realise our vision for NamesCon Global 2020, which we’re calling ‘The Domain Economic Forum’,” says von Varchmin. “NamesCon has evolved from an investor-focused event into the central event for everything domain-related. We’re happy to bring in domain name investors, registries, registrars, internet service providers, attorneys, brand managers, affiliate marketing companies, domain marketplaces, parking companies, financial service providers, and individual end-users. We’re looking beyond the right or left of the dot: now we’re taking you 360 degrees around the dot!”

“Our team has been going back and forth between Cologne and Austin to get things ready, even though the event is six months away,” said Neumer. “It’s a lot of flying, but it’s worth it!” The team has scored a new partnership with the Omni Hotel Austin Downtown: it’s described as a cool, chic spot with a rooftop pool. The special NamesCon rate is $200 less than the OMNI’s average price per night.

Since its founding in 2013, NamesCon’s flagship event has been held in Las Vegas.

Early-bird registrations are open until 31 July to save a few hundred bucks.

UAE Government Launches U.AE As Official Website For Govt Services

The United Arab Emirates has launched its official government website, its official portal that provides public access to information, services, projects, strategies and laws in the UAE using the u.ae domain name.

The new domain name, developed in cooperation between The Prime Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), is composed of the initials of the United Arab Emirates (u.ae). The first letter is the domain name, while the second and third letters form the UAE’s country code Top Level Domain “.ae”.

The official portal of the UAE Government is a comprehensive platform for all government services and information, as well as important data and information related to vital sectors in the UAE, including education, economy, business, infrastructure, residency regulations, health, national policies and strategies, and others.

“The new domain name of the UAE Government portal embodies the meaning of innovation, which is simple and easy to remember,” said Commenting on the new domain name, Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, TRA Director General. “It also reflects the centrality of the people in the government’s concerns with its various projects, programmes and plans. The adoption of the new domain name comes at an important stage of the digital transformation, in which we enter the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the smart city, and the government of Artificial Intelligence. We are guided by our wise leadership directives to adopt a culture of innovation and creativity as a way to assert our nation’s leadership and our community’s happiness.”

“The most important message of the new domain name is the focus on people. It is a message from the UAE leadership that you are the goal, you are the purpose, you are the bet, you are the government, and you are the United Arab Emirates. We enter the digital age through the u.ae portal, to tell the world that the people are the ultimate goal of the UAE Government. The people in the broad sense of participation, tolerance, peace, prosperity, happiness, wellbeing, and sustainable development. The “u.ae” mission is that we are all our partners in future making. “

The informative side of the portal includes facts and figures on the UAE Government organisational structure, the Founding Fathers, the UAE strategies and initiatives, and development goals and plans. The portal also includes an e-participation platform that contains an online forum, blogs, surveys, polls, Chatbot, and links to the mGovernment pages on social medial such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others.

Radix’s Karn Jajoo Discusses GDPR Benefits, How New gTLDs Are Looking Good and Radix’s Impressive Growth

In the latest Domain Pulse Q&A, we talk to Karn Jajoo, Head of Premium Portfolio at Radix, the registry behind successful new domain extensions such as .TECH, .STORE, .ONLINE, .SPACE and .SITE. Radix is one of the world’s largest nTLD portfolio registries with over 4M domains under management.

Jajoo discusses Radix’s impressive growth in 2018, the positive impact of the EU’s GDPR has been it’s spawned privacy discussions in developing countries with local data privacy laws, how registries should be deploying a long-term strategy now and keep away from the practice of trying to sell as many names as possible and instead focus on sustainable growth and usage and that the wider industry is developing products to support. Not unsurprisingly, Jajoo is excited about the prospects for the new generic top-level domains.

Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2018 in the domain name industry for you?

Karn Jajoo: 2018 was a great year for new domains with some solid premium sales across top nTLDs, and two premium name sales over $500,000 that have set a new benchmark. Good meaningful names in suitable extensions will continue to find end users willing to pay a premium price.

Many globally popular brands warmed up to using new domains with the industry experiencing increasing adoption across different verticals globally.

There was also a 25% YoY growth in overall new domain registrations from registrars outside China; in fact, there were a total of 10 million registrations in 2018 vs 8 million in 2017. Specifically for us, it was a great year as Radix grossed $16.95M in total revenue in 2018, a 30% rise over its revenue in 2017. Radix’s net profit also grew by 45.6% in comparison to last year.

One of the biggest challenges for the new domains industry still remains to be the mindset within the domain industry. While there has been a gradual but definite shift in the perception of nTLDs within the domain industry, I think for many folks, an inherent conflict of interest leads to skepticism. Such biases need to be checked given the success of so many good nTLDs and plenty of use cases that continue to thrive.

DP: GDPR – good, bad and/or indifferent to you and the wider industry and why?

KJ: Much like others within the domains industry as well as other industries across the globe, the exercise to implement these changes in processes was challenging, and often confusing. Although, I don’t think we could classify it as good or bad. Instead of a binary judgment, we should look at it as a welcome change as far as the protection of private data is concerned.

On one hand, the domain industry seems to have coped well with the regulations that came into effect last year. On the other hand, DNS security agencies and counter abuse efforts have suffered a setback with redacted WHOIS information. The one positive effect of GDPR has been that data privacy discussions have spawned in other developing nations leading to the formation of local data privacy laws.

DP: What are you looking forward to in 2019?

KJ: As Radix, we are looking forward to becoming the biggest nTLD operator globally, and at the current growth pace, that could happen soon! We are already the only nTLD portfolio registry that has two of its TLDs with over 1 million domain registrations each.

We are also excited about the increasing number of startups that are investing in and using new gTLDs. Owing to the booming startup ecosystem globally, we can expect a lot of room for growth in new gTLDs in 2019. Our Startup League initiative now has 300+ startups that we are actively supporting.

As top nTLDs get more mainstream, their usage and acceptance would steadily increase, and so will the value of premium domains on nTLDs. We expect to make some big-ticket sales in 2019 and beyond.

DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?

KJ: Registries should be deploying a long-term strategy now and keep away from the practice of trying to sell as many names as possible and instead focus on sustainable growth and usage.

A big positive for this industry is that partners such as domain marketplaces, brokerages, etc. are building more products and allocating time and resources towards marketing and selling new TLDs. Site builder SaaS platforms of all sizes are also starting to enhance their domains play and are understanding the importance of domain names as the gateway to more sales of their products.

DP: 2019 will mark 5 years since the first new gTLDs came online. How do you view them now?

KJ: Most extensions have been active for 2-4 years now and there is adequate channel and customer feedback on various aspects such as market segmentation, geographies, pricing etc. There has been considerable consolidation in the industry and many extensions that shouldn’t have existed in the first place are either declining in registrations or have ceased to exist, while meaningful extensions that offer customers genuine value have continued to grow.

Customer awareness and acceptance continues to be a challenge and an opportunity. We will continue to see a growing number of new domains spotted ‘in the wild’. We have a high decibel digital marketing campaign targeting end consumers running through various media channels for our flagship generic TLD, .ONLINE. We did similar campaigns for .STORE and .TECH last year and we can see their impact on the business.

I feel registries should be doing as much as possible to increase the pace of building awareness by communicating their value proposition.

DP: Are domain names as relevant now for consumers – business, government, and individuals – as they have been in the past?

KJ: I think domain names are more relevant now than ever. Trust between social media and consumers was shaken many times in the last couple of years and businesses realise that they need to ‘own their property’ i.e. their touchpoint with their customers or followers. If they only rely and build upon the property of someone else, they will always risk losing control of that relationship. Such dependence on social media has impaired many businesses which relied heavily on them for revenue or growth of the community. A good domain is an investment into your own brand and thus the best names will continue seeing higher valuations and interest in the coming years.

Previous Q&As in this series were with:

  • EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
  • Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
  • Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
  • DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
  • DENIC (here)
  • Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
  • nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
  • Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
  • CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
  • CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
  • Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
  • GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
  • Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
  • Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
  • ICANN board member and founding auDA CEO Chris Disspain (here)
  • InternetNZ’s Chief Executive Jordan Carter (here).

If you’d like to participate in this Domain Pulse series with industry figures, please contact David Goldstein at Domain Pulse by email to david[at]goldsteinreport.com.

DDoS Attacks Inflicting Serious Damage To Brands: Neustar

DDoS attacks continue to be an effective means to distract and confuse security teams while inflicting serious damage to brands, according to a report released last week by Neustar, Inc.

The first quarter 2019 Cyber Threats and Trends report highlights new areas of growth in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks over the past year. One issue the report highlights is that while volumetric attacks over 50Gbps remain a relatively small segment of the overall threat picture at only 12% of attacks, their frequency has grown enormously when compared to the same period in 2018. The latest attacks morph over the course of the attack using a variety of ports and protocols to locate and exploit vulnerabilities. In Q1, 2019, over 77% of attacks used two or more vectors.

In particular, the trend of targeting subnets and classless inter-domain routing (CIDR) blocks to slow or stop network traffic across the internet is a disruptive DDoS threat, identified in the report. By using DDoS methods aimed completely at subnets, rather than specific IP addresses, an attack is often more difficult to detect and mitigate. These attacks often feature multiple vectors, and will switch between them as they migrate from subnet to subnet.

Neustar handled a mitigation for just such an attack in an around-the-clock collaboration between SOC engineers and a new customer who was quickly onboarded by Neustar after being dropped [during the attack] by their Tier 1 Internet Service Provider (ISP).

“Today’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies enable us to identify anomalous traffic and patterns, correlate data across systems, and perform behavioral analytics on users and entities,” said Rodney Joffe, Neustar Senior Vice President, Technologist and Fellow. “But none of these systems function without professionals who know how to deploy them, interpret their data, identify the existence and location of problems, and mitigate them.”

Such immediate personal involvement with expert engineers is a significant benefit in working with an estab-lished firm such as Neustar, particularly when under attack. “Neustar’s 10+Tbps of scrubbing capacity and variety of offerings are world class, and we have more power than ever to defend against the range of DDoS attacks,” said Michael Kaczmarek, Neustar Vice President of Security Products. “But it’s important to remember our most powerful defense: people.”

Neustar provides its customers with the resources and assurance that are needed to ensure data and infra-structure is continually protected against any type or size of DDoS attack. Neustar’s DDoS Mitigation Solutions offer the largest dedicated global network with over 10Tbps + of scrubbing capacity in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, Australia and India.

A free copy of The Neustar Q1’19 Cyber Threats and Trends Report is available here.