Nominet suspended 28,937 .uk domain names between 1 November 2018 and 31 October 2019, a small reduction year on year a – down from 32,813 in the previous year. This represents around 0.22% of the more than 13 million .uk domains currently registered.
Nominet suspends domains following notification from the police or other law enforcement agencies that the domain is being used for criminal activity, collaborating with 10 reporting organisations and received requests from 5 of these.
“It’s encouraging to see that our efforts, working closely with the law enforcement community, are having a demonstrable impact on the ability of those intent on causing serious mischief online,” said Russell Haworth, Nominet’s CEO. “We will not tolerate .UK domains being used for criminal activity. Suspensions have fallen for the first time since 2014 indicating that using collective established processes combined with technology-driven interventions is, it seems, acting as a deterrent.”
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) which processes and co-ordinates requests relating to IP infringements from nationwide sources is the main reporting agency with 28,606 requests, followed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (178) and Trading Standards (90), Financial Conduct Authority (48) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (31).
“Partnership working is vital in the fight against intellectual property crime,” said Detective Constable Weizmann Jacobs of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. “We work closely with Nominet and the law enforcement community to disrupt criminals who try to operate in the .UK domain and the figures released today demonstrates the success we have had in doing so.
“By collaborative working, we can help protect consumers from the dangers of counterfeit goods and safeguard their personal information when shopping online. When consumers purchase from illicit sites, they are unknowingly handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often use these to commit further crime.
“In light of the figures Nominet have released, and in the run up to Christmas, we would like to warn online shoppers that there’s more risk when it’s counterfeit. If it looks too good to be true then it probably is; heavily discounted products are often a tell-tale sign that something isn’t right.”
The number of requests that didn’t result in a suspension was 16 – down from 114 in the previous year. Reasons for requests not resulting in suspension include the domain already being suspended due to a parallel process, the domain already being transferred on a court order, or the registrant modifying the website to become compliant following notification. There were also 5 suspension reversals, which happens if the offending behaviour has stopped and the enforcing agency has since confirmed that the suspension can be lifted.
The report also provides an update on domains suspended and blocked under Nominet’s proscribed terms policy, introduced in May 2014. Over 1,600 newly registered domains were flagged as potential breaches, but no suspensions were made, indicating a high number of false positives. Over the same period there were 0 suspension requests from the Internet Watch Foundation on Child Sexual Abuse Images (CSAM) on .UK domains.
For the same period, Domain Watch – Nominet’s anti-phishing initiative that suspends suspicious domains at the point of registration – saw 2,668 domains suspended. When identified as high risk of phishing, domains will not resolve in the DNS until extra diligence is conducted and we are satisfied that the registration does not pose a phishing risk. If a domain is suspended, the registrant will receive an email informing them what has happened, together with the next steps required if they feel the suspension was not correctly applied. Of these, 274 successfully passed our additional due diligence and completed the registration process.
“We are constantly looking for ways to improve .UK for the millions of individuals and businesses that rely on it,” said Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Solutions at Nominet. “Using Domain Watch to catch domains such as hmrc-taxrefund-gov.co.uk, login-micorosoftoffice.co.uk and netfllx.uk, intent on confusing people for criminal gain is proving fruitful, but we and other likeminded partners as well as individuals must not rest on our laurels. The criminals certainly won’t.”
An infographic that provides full details of the report is available here [pdf].