Switzerland’s Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) has extended its 2016 contract with SWITCH for five more years for management of the .ch ccTLD. The new contract, signed on 10 December 2020, includes additional services to further strengthen the .ch domain’s security and intensify the fight against cybercrime. It will come into force on 1 January 2022. SWITCH has managed .ch on the Swiss Confederation’s behalf since 2003.
2021’s Domain Pulse is the latest conference to fall victim to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Originally scheduled to be held in Beethoven’s home town, the German city of Bonn, in February and hosted by DENIC, it will now be held in February 2022.
Tom Kleiber, a 53 year old ICT veteran, has been named today to take over as Managing Director of SWITCH, which among other roles manages Switzerland’s ccTLD .ch and Liechtenstein’s .li. Kleiber will succeed Andreas Dudler who is stepping down after nine years as Managing Director and retiring at the end of 2021. Kleiber will take up his new post on 1 January 2021.
The annual free domain name conference of the German-speaking world, Domain Pulse, is heading to the North Tyrolean Alps city of Innsbruck in Austria in February 2020 with the organisers looking towards the future, asking attendees to âgaze into the crystal ball togetherâ with them.
Day 1 is dedicated to the question of what future will bring in terms of technology, internet governance and the world of work – and where the forecasts come from! On the second day, we will highlight the issue of risk – how much are we prepared to take in our personal lives, careers and as a society? And at what price?
The presentations will focus on the future of internet governance, the talents of tomorrow, does the domain name system tell us anything about the future, artificial intelligence, looking forward with 5G and its challenges in particular relating to surveillance and citizenâs rights and what should ccTLD registries expect in the future.
This yearâs Domain Pulse conference (which is not related to the DomainPulse.com domain name news site) will be held on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February. In 2020 the conference is organised by the Austrian ccTLD manager nic.at, with the conference rotating to be hosted by DENIC in 2021 in Germany, then by SWITCH in Switzerland in 2022.
For presentations in German, there will be a simultaneous translation service into English, but not for presentations in English into German. However given that networking is as important as the conference topics, it can still be extremely worthwhile to attend.
To register, book hotels, check out the agenda and find out more information in general, go to: domainpulse.at/dp2020. There are plenty of trains passing through Innsbruck and a number of airlines fly to Innsbruck. Conference hotels start at â¬120 per night, plus thereâs the always wonderful Thursday evening event.
UPDATE: This article was updated to reflect a misunderstanding regarding translations. There will be translations of presentations into English from German, but not for German presentations into English. The original version of this article said there would be no translations.
SWITCH, the registry for Switzerlandâs ccTLD .ch and Liechtenstein’s .li, has sold its registrar business switchplus to the Belgian webhoster Combell Group.
Since the early stages of the Swiss internet, SWITCH has performed a dual role. The foundation acted both as a registry operator for .ch and a registrar for the direct sale of .ch domain names to end customers. For any transfer of this direct customer business to the registrars, SWITCH considered it of strategic importance that it preserve the values it had developed as a registrar for the benefit of the foundation. These values included SWITCHâs expert knowledge, as well as its loyal customers. Consequently, establishing switchplus nine years ago was a deliberate strategic decision. With the separation carried out in 2016, SWITCH was able to transfer some of the values it had developed as a registrar to switchplus.
With the sale of switchplus, SWITCH will now focus on its core business with Swiss universities and ensures the security of the Internet in Switzerland. All proceeds of the sale will be invested to benefit universities in line with foundationâs objectives. This includes the development of innovative IT services in the areas of networks, IT security, identity management and cloud computing, as well as the security of the Swiss internet.
switchplus has over 400,000 domain names under management for around 130,000 customers, with the majority being businesses and entrepeneurs. It also has the highest market share among all .CH and .LI Registrars.
Andreas Dudler, Managing Director of SWITCH, is pleased about the successful sale.
âWe are happy that we were able to sell switchplus to the Belgian Combell Group,â said Dudler. âI am also glad that Combell Group will retain all employees and that switchplus will remain active in the market as an autonomous company. I am convinced that the expert knowledge and size of Combell Group will provide switchplus with the ideal conditions for further growth.â
It’s the Combell Group’s first foray into Switzerland. Announcing their acquisition, Combell Group said not only will they retain the current workforce at Switchplus in Zurich, they will further invest into the expansion by adding and renewing products and services in favour of its customers. Over time, it will therefore also further split off the company from its roots at SWITCH and define its own future identity, by rebranding the company.
“Combell Group is thrilled to start its journey in Switzerland,” said Jonas Dhaenens, CEO of Combell Group. “Weâre welcoming a lot of new customers, new colleagues and lots of expertise and we already see great potential ahead. Our first priority has always been to inspire and to innovate, in benefit of our customers. We want to enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to build their digital identity online using our services.”
The Swiss registry, SWITCH, has developed a means of counting the top 1,000 .ch domain names, which is based on a count of the unique IP addresses that query a certain domain.
SWITCH began publishing the top 1,000 list in July 2018 âto support open data in Switzerland and [to know] how exactly domain names are being used in order to keep the .ch zone secure.â
The SWITCH Top 1,000 list will differ from other sources such as the Top Alexa ranking however their âDNS based ranking will give a differing view on the .ch zone since not only the www usage is represented but all services that make use of DNS.â
SWITCH explains that their âidea is based on a tool developed by Alexander Mayrhofer from nic.at called DNS-Magnitude.â The first thought SWITCH had was to count âthe number of queries for each domain name and then taking the 1000 domain names with the most queries. However, considering the TTL of a record, a domain name with low TTL might be less important as its ranking suggests since it would be queried over and over again due to the rapidly expiring TTL.â
So SWITCH decided they needed a metric that ignores the TTL. Their solution was âto count the unique IP addresses that query a certain domain. This way the number of times a single source queries a domain name has no influence on its ranking. Additionally, to limit the influence of daily fluctuations the numbers are measured over a monthâs period.â The results will be published monthly on the SWITCH website.
By publishing the list of top 1,000 domain names SWITCH is hoping to contribute to the idea of open data. There will be questions raised, such as why some domain names are ranked so high, which will result in further analysis. SWITCH also hopes to see others make use of this ranking and publicly share their insights in order to broaden their understanding of the .ch landscape.
In June the top 10 domain names were:
To read the blog post in full on the SWITCH Security blog, go to:
Registries universally said they’re not content police in a discussion on domain name take down processes involving legal counsels from the operators of 6 European registries, both generic and country code TLDs. However processes vary among the registries.
The discussion involved representatives from dotSaarland, DENIC (.de), SWITCH (.ch), SIDN (.nl), DNS Belgium (.be) and Nominet (.uk) at the Domain Pulse conference in Munich Friday, the annual event that rotates between Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
One registry that does make decisions on takedowns, or suspensions as they’re often called, and the content on the sites using the domain names, is SWITCH. Anna Kuhn explained how SWITCH was rather unusual in that they were both a registry and operated a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which gave them some additional expertise. However SWITCH still doesn’t make decisions on content, only on domain names involved in the hosting malware and phishing Combatting cybercrime, Kuhn explained, is one of the roles of the registry operator.
Volker Greimann from dotSaarland, the only new gTLD operator in the panel discussion, said .saarland is in a different position to the country code top level domain (ccTLD) registries as they have a direct contract with ICANN. Additionally, the Saarland regional government said they don’t want their new generic top level domain (new gTLD) to be a haven for crime. The gTLD for the German state has an anti-abuse rule in their terms and conditions that requires domain names to not ruin the reputation of the Saar region.
Horst explained the German registry's position of the German registry in this respect: “DENIC is not the right point of contact to which to turn when it comes to content. If DENIC were to evaluate content and delete, at its own discretion, domains through which websites with questionable content can be accessed, this would be equivalent to censorship. In a democracy based on the separation of powers, no one can seriously support law enforcement by the private sector. This philosophy of DENIC's is, by the way, also reflected by the unanimous opinion of the German courts.”
The courts, Horst explained, have always sided with DENIC’s view that they also aren’t in a position to judge on what is illegal content and that complaints should always go to the registrant if they can be contacted.
SIDN’s Maarten Simon said SIDN will never just take down a domain name and that contacting the registry should be a last resort. However Simon also noted .nl domain names are much more trusted by Dutch people than any other TLD. And that this trust is both in SIDN’s interest to protect so that internet users continue to want to visit sites using the Dutch ccTLD and businesses want to register .nl domain names. Building trust benefits SIDN’s bottom line as more .nl domain names are registered. For complaints regarding .nl domain names, there is an independent appeals board with a number of judges and professors with the expertise to deal with complaints.
Peter Vergote from DNS Belgium also noted how .be has nothing to do with judging content hosted using a .be domain name, so to get a domain name suspended a complaint has to give necessary evidence such as a court order to have a domain name taken down.
Vergote echoed Simon’s views on .nl in that DNS Belgium deeply cares about the quality of the .be zone and it’s their sincere duty to do what they can without taking unnecessary risks. While they are more active than in the past on dealing with complaints, they will never evaluate content on a website. This position has been backed by a court order from a Belgian court that states deciding illegal content is up to the courts and can’t be done by DNS Belgium. When it comes to phishing though, DNS Belgium treats this differently and will take action without a court order if they are advised from a competent body that a domain name is used for phishing.
But DNS Belgium will never take it upon themselves to suspend a domain name that’s suspected of being used for phishing because that’s a content evaluation. Additionally Vergote said a phisher is unlikely to put their correct identity in Whois. DNS Belgium suspends around a dozen domain names per month with complaints largely driven by government agencies and rarely from private individuals or organisations.
So what about the domain names that are required to be taken down, or suspended? For SIDN, Simon explained the procedure starts with a form to be completed on the SIDN website where the complainant explains why the domain name should be taken and what they’ve done to date to complain. If the complaint is clear cut SIDN will go to the registrar and get the domain name taken down. SIDN receives about 20 requests per year and take down one, maybe 2, each year out of the 5.8 million .nl registrations.
Nominet’s Wenban-Smith commented on the futility of removing or suspending a domain name because even if they do, the content still exists. Nominet doesn’t allow child abuse or content that promotes criminal activity on .uk domain names. But Nominet doesn’t make decisions on what is illegal content but does cooperate with those who can such as law enforcement. For those wishing to make complaints, Nominet doesn’t take requests from those outside the UK. In 2017 Wenban-Smith said Nominet suspended 16,000 .uk domain names in 2017.
The 2018 Domain Pulse conference is motoring into view and will be held at BMW World in Munich on 22 and 23 March. The annual conference this year is organised by DENIC, the German registry with a focus on the digital future as well as the state of the domain name industry. The conference rotates between Germany, Switzerland (SWITCH) and Austria (nic.at).
The free conference is a great way of getting to know the German-speaking domain name market with a few hundred people from registries, registrars and resellers, domain investors and a range of other participants from the domain name world. And fear not if you’re not a German speaker. Most, if not all, presentations in German are translated into English [this writer certainly hopes so!] and there are plenty of great opportunities to network and get to know the key players in the German, Swiss and Austrian domain name industries, including the usual evening event. Already around 250 people have registered.
The conference, as always, has a focus on presentations and panels dealing with domain names, but also covers a range of other topics. This year there will be a look at the future with presentations on the governance of the Internet of Things, a futurologist looking at “digital enlightenment”, smart mobility and connected driving, another on security, terrorism and fear and another on privacy and security in the digital space.
And of course, there will be presentations on domain names with one of the most important and interesting topical discussions likely to be on the upcoming European General Data Protection Regulation. The GDPR is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals in the European Union. This has an impact on any business that stores personal information on European citizens and the domain name business.
And that’s just day one! Day 2 will kick off with a presentation from Wolfgang Kleinwächter who will look at internet governance in 2018. There will also be a panel discussion on the notice and takedown debate from a registry perspective involving representatives from dotSaarland, DENIC, SWITCH, SIDN, DNS Belgium and Nominet, a discussion on how to overcome registration growth slowdown and an update on what’s been happening in 2017 from the 3 co-hosts.
To register for the free 2018 Domain Pulse, check out the programme and nearby hotels, or even see who else is going, go to:
Legitimate online shops are protected by a secure web connection. When you arrive at the âCheckoutâ process, at the very latest, you should be able to recognise a legitimate webshop by its security attributes, such as a green lock icon and use of https:// instead of http://. Both security attributes are visible in the address line of your browser.
Be suspicious of brand-name product offerings with unusually big discounts.
Have an overall look at the provider: does its name, logo and web address seem credible? If you are unfamiliar with the shop, ask around to see whether other people have had a good experience with it. Fraudsters like to use web addresses of legitimate, albeit defunct, websites. This allows them to exploit the recognition factor and a better Google ranking.
Switzerland requires websites to include an imprint (Impressum). Websites that offer merchandise, works or services must disclose their identity with a name and contact address. The link to the imprint is usually found at the bottom of a website. Be suspicious if a link, such as in this example, is missing or if the information provided does not seem credible. If in doubt, check the website address with www.nic.ch; this website operated by SWITCH lists the contact address given by the holder of the domain name when it was registered. But beware: this address may be fictitious. Avoid a webshop if this information seems dubious to you.
Always report fraudulent and suspicious websites to the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) by completing the reporting form: https://www.fedpol.admin.ch/fedpol/en/home/kriminalitaet/cybercrime/meldeformular.html
If a Swiss authority (e.g. fedpol, MELANI, Comlot, ESBK, SECO, Swissmedic) comes across a .ch website that is potentially in violation of the law in the course of its work, it attempts to contact the owner of the .ch domain name. This requires a contact address in Switzerland. If the domain name owner has registered an invalid address or an address outside the country in the SWITCH database, the authority contacts SWITCH. The foundation then gives the owner 30 days to provide a valid address in Switzerland. If the deadline passes without a response, SWITCH deletes the domain name and the fraudulent website is no longer accessible. This procedure is in line with the Federal Ordinance on Internet Domains (IDomsO).
The security experts at SWITCH have been very proactive in fighting cybercrime for several years now, particularly in the case of malware and phishing. As a result, .ch has become Europeâs most secure domain ending. Together with partners in the Swiss internet industry, SWITCH also started the Safer Internet initiative. SWITCH is also working closely with the Swiss authorities in the area of white-collar crime. The goal is always the same: to offer Swiss internet users maximum protection against threats.
The SWITCH Foundation has once again won the right to operate the .ch (Switzerland) ccTLD for the five years from 2017 to 2022, the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) announced with its proposals for dealing with cybercrime one of the key reasons it won the tender.In announcing winning the tender on Twitter, SWITCH said they are “very proud”. And it means SWITCH will continue to operate .ch as it has since 2003.”We are very proud that OFCOM has decided in our favour and will continue to work hard to ensure that .ch domains remain among the most secure in the world,” said SWITCH’s Managing Director Andreas Dudler later in a statement. “To this end, we work closely with authorities and partners in the Internet industry throughout the world, not just in Switzerland.”SWITCH won the public tender process launched in mid-April 2016. OFCOM noted its tender stood out for the combination of an excellent concept for combating cybercrime and a good price/performance ratio. Other criteria that were part of the tender process were experience, community, economic independence and DNSSEC.The Swiss Federal Council has declared .ch a critical infrastructure. It was determined that .ch requires special protection because large parts of public life would grind to a halt if it were to break down, which is the case with most of the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) around the world.SWITCH in announcing they had won the tender noted they had always endeavoured to keep this infrastructure operating securely and stably. The foundation has played a pioneering role in the fight against cybercrime. It was the first registry to begin taking decisive action against the distribution of malicious software and the theft of personal login details for online services.It means that from July 2017 to at least 2022 the SWITCH Foundation will continue to manage the national database of .ch domain names. Its tasks include the assignment and revocation of the right to use internet addresses with the ending “.ch”. The contract can be extended for a further five years by mutual consent.SWITCH won the tender, OFCOM said, because its bid achieved the highest score of the bids which were submitted.