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COVID Domain Registrations Surged in March

The Internet and the domain name system (DNS) have become the mainstay of the new COVID sheltered world. Afilias looked at registrations in the unrestricted domain name space, with a special focus on the popular .INFO, .PRO, .MOBI and .IO domain name extensions. The data shows that the number of website and domain registrations related to COVID and Coronavirus in these extensions is flattening after a surge in March.

Afilias has processed more than a million registrations in 2020, and the .info top-level domain (TLD) has proven to be the most popular extension to register names related to the COVID pandemic (e.g. "covid," "virus," etc.). Close to 5,000 new .info registrations are related to the ongoing pandemic and are being used to provide valuable information related to the illness.

Some examples include:
  • worldometers.info: Up to date global stats on the pandemic and a host of other topics. Traffic to Worldometers.info has surged, propelling it nearly a hundred-fold from 6,142 to the 74th most trafficked site on the Internet today
  • CoronaVirusPakistan.info: Live updates on the status of the pandemic in Pakistan
  • Covid19Daily.info: Country-level stats on COVID cases

About 10% of all registered names are registered to provide information about the pandemic specific to a geographic region - CoronaVirusHaiti.info, CovidPH.info, and so on.

Covid-related Registrations Surged Ahead of Pandemic spread

As shown below, COVID-related registrations in the .info TLD peaked in mid-March, just as global awareness of COVID exploded worldwide. As the coronavirus spread rapidly all over the world, informational websites using the names registered in March soon became local go-to resources for a world that needed concise information.

Weekly COVID Related Registrations: Afilias TLDs
Based on 4,792 registrations with COVID-related names registered across 25 Afilias TLDs

Daily New Case Counts Worldwide

Daily New Case Counts Worldwide / Source: worldometers.info

Top COVID-19 related searches in the US

Top COVID-19 related searches in the US, Jan-Apr 2020 / Source: Google

"COVID" is the most popular descriptor

Website owners showed that their registrations of .info names were dominated by three terms - COVID, Virus and Coronavirus, together accounting for over 80% of all names registered. Of these, COVID is the most popular descriptor, with over 40% of all names, including the term "COVID" in the name. Surprisingly, 15% of names were long and used a hyphen, including names such as (covid19-ma.info) and (covid-19map.info).

"COVID" and "VIRUS" Are Most Used Descriptors
Based on 4,792 registrations with COVID-related names registered across 25 Afilias TLDs

Most COVID registrations were for real use, not for scams

Over 80% of all registrants only registered one name — a striking statistic that indicates "real" use rather than malicious intent. Over 40% of all names registered in our TLDs were by registrants registering only one name. A large number of names (about 33%) were by registrants whose identity was shielded, thereby not allowing an analysis of whether most shielded names were similar to the 40% who bought only one name. 

The dearth of registrants buying hundreds of names is consistent with the absence of scams being perpetrated using these names. Separate abuse analysis shows that fewer than 20 of these names (~0.4%) were involved in domain abuse, resulting in rapid remediation. Our practice of proactively screening every incoming registration seems to have discouraged criminals from attempting to abuse names in these top-level domains.

COVID Registrants Bought Single Names
Based on 4,792 registrations with COVID-related names registered across 25 Afilias TLDs

COVID names average 12-14 characters

COVID names are about the normal length for domain names, with the distribution curve peaking at 13 characters as shown below.  The shortest name is 5 characters, and the longest is 60 characters (www.coronavirus-children-families-helping-n-disasters-nterrorism.info)!

COVID Names Peak at 13 Characters
Based on 4,792 registrations with COVID-related names registered across 25 Afilias TLDs

Websites like the examples in the .info top-level domain shown above illustrate the value of addresses that are both dedicated to information in times of crisis and carefully monitored to discourage potential abuse. Trend analysis of registration data can also provide perspective on the progress of the subject area (in this case, the Covid-19 pandemic).

Let us hope that the current post-peak decline in Covid-related registrations presages the decline of the pandemic itself.

By Ram Mohan, Chief Operating Officer at Afilias – Mr. Mohan brings over 20 years of technology leadership experience to Afilias and the industry. Visit Page

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