With the COVID 19 pandemic a focus of attention for most people around the world at the moment there is an impact on domain name registration trends and the internet infrastructure business. While many of the domains that are registered containing strings like “covid” or “corona” are never used for anything and are purely speculative (good luck with that), some of the domains are being used by criminals. There’s no strict rules around this and registrars will have discretion.
The document does not dictate what registrars should do in relation to some of the cybersecurity and other threats that surround the current pandemic, but acts more as a rough guide that registrars and hosting providers could look to:
some approaches to identifying domains and assessing them for potential harm.
The key thing, as the document points out, is that you need to look beyond the mere string itself. So while a domain might contain the string “coronavirus” that does not mean that it’s being used for anything nefarious or for DNS abuse. For example this site is a collection of memes related to the pandemic.
A few basic tips in the document:
- Look for domains registered after December 2019, which is when the media first started reporting on the outbreak
- Check for obvious strings in the registrations such as “covid”, “corona”
- Assess the threshold of harm – while a domain might be used for something that is in “bad taste” that’s very different from something which can lead to actual physical harm of people.
The group, which counts within its membership most of the major registrars, is not a trade organisation and while the document was issued by the group its members are not bound to it and are free to take whatever measures they feel suitable. As I mentioned recently some registrars (and registries) have and will continue to make statements and adopt their own approaches. Bear in mind, however, that not all registrars are big companies and documents like this one can be helpful to many who are possibly struggling with this current situation.