CENTR has taken a look at how COVID-19 has impacted on the DNS, or rather how domain names using terms relating to COVID-19 have fared. While the end result is not much, what they have missed is the impact of domain names being registered because of the global pandemic but don’t refer COVID-19 or related terms.
For their research, CENTR studied a large sample of domain names across a group of 12 ccTLDs to estimate the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has had any impact. Domains were analysed for the period of January to March 2020 and restricted to domains which included any of the following terms: covid, corona or virus. They found a total of 6,164 registrations included these terms and most of them were registered during the second half of March 2020.
To put this number into perspective, CENTR noted that in the same group of ccTLDs there were 751,000 new domains registered in the same three-month period. This means that domains with a covid-related term (using one of the three terms) represented 0.8% of all new registrations in this period.
CENTR then ran a scan on the COVID-related domain names to look at their technical status and to see if, and if so how, they were being used. CENTR found a quarter (26% or 1,637 domains) “are estimated to have functioning web content. The rest are either parked, have an ‘under-construction’ notification, do not resolve or display other forms of technical error.”
CENTR also surveyed them members to see how they are coping. They found 80% of those responding “are scanning the newly-registered domains for terms such as covid, corona or virus. Roughly half of this 80% verifies the registration data of COVID-19 related domains more closely than with other newly-registered domains as a response to the pandemic, and filters out the ones registered in bad faith. Additionally, about half of the respondents share lists of newly-registered domain names with national authorities or national CERTs. When it comes to actual abuse associated with newly-registered COVID-19 related domain names, the number of reported cases remains marginally low across European ccTLDs.”
CENTR also looked at how the domain name system was holding up under the current heavy workloads, and the answer to this is “this traffic increase is not outside the current capacity of the European ccTLD infrastructure. … With the amount of server capacity that ccTLD registries have deployed to handle traffic, even a tenfold increase would still leave them with high margins of reserve capacity.”
In conclusion and “based on a wide range of data sets and metrics, [CENTR] concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has had no significant impact on the DNS. Users are continuing to register domains as expected, registrations of domain names continue to trend up with an average growth of around 2%, the load on the infrastructure is well within the capacity range at around 10% and abuse levels are at the same, low levels as before the pandemic.”
The full report is available here.