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The Pros and Cons of Introducing New gTLDs

Jonathan Zhang

Every time new concepts are introduced, much debate ensues as to the advantages and disadvantages such a change would bring forth. We've seen that happen with the launch of IPv6. Detractors and supporters rallied to make their respective arguments heard.

One thing is sure though. The need for a much larger IP address space is something both parties are in agreement with. In the past 10 years alone, the number of Internet users has grown almost fourfold from 1.7 billion June 2009 to 4.4 billion as of June 2019. And if a researcher's calculations are right, as many as 380 websites are created per minute. An increasing number of start-ups are also established over time that need to make their own mark on the World Wide Web.

Given the constantly rising volume of businesses, it isn't surprising for much-sought-after domains to become harder to come by. Every company, after all, would go for a domain that aptly describes their business and matches their brand so they would be easy to find in the ever-growing global community that is the Internet. The seeming lack of domain choices has led to the proposal to widen the top-level domain (TLD) space.

And so in 2015, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced the introduction of more than 500 new generic TLDs (gTLDs) to accommodate the growing demand. Of course, this spurred talks about the good and bad that this change would bring about. Let's take a closer look at both sides of the coin.

The Good

The availability of new gTLDs provides entrepreneurs with more domain name options to choose from. Companies in need of easy-to-remember domains for their websites will no longer be limited to using the more commonly used and likely saturated gTLDs (.com, .net, .org, etc.). With the addition of hundreds of gTLDs to choose from, they would stand a better chance of obtaining ownership rights to a domain that would best fit their brand.

Domainers and domain registrars whose main task is to provide clients with lists of potential domains for their business would be able to give more choices apart from what may be left available in the popular gTLD and even country code TLD (ccTLD) spaces. This can, of course, result in better customer satisfaction.

The Bad

It's no secret, everyone approaches anything new with a bit of caution. That said, because newly created gTLDs are not so known, site visitors, especially those that have had run-ins with cybercriminals, may be wary of visiting sites that sport them. It is, after all, known that cyber attackers often hide their trails by using less popular TLDs.

Cybercriminals and attackers may have gained a bigger playing field as well. Their domain choices, much like the rest of the world's, increased. Cybersecurity specialists and law enforcement agencies will need to scour a much bigger base when going after threat actors.

Given the bigger volume of TLDs to monitor, website owners and brand agents would also have to spend more time and exert greater effort to keep tabs on potential cases of copyright infringement and trademark abuse.

Takeaways

Just as connectivity can be considered a double-edged sword, the Internet's growth presents both risks and opportunities as well. But because change is constant, anyone with an online presence, whether an individual or a company, just needs to remain ever-vigilant to threats in order to stay safe. We can only expect to see the World Wide Web expand more, bringing with it both the good and the bad. We just need to be prepared with not just reactive but also proactive measures to maintain the security of our digital assets.

By Jonathan Zhang, Founder and CEO of WhoisXMLAPI & ThreatIntelligencePlatform.com
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