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Trench Warfare in the Age of The Laser-Guided Missile

The historical development of spam fighting is allowing computer-aware criminals to take the upper hand in the fight against what has now evolved into a completely technologically and organizationally merged threat to public safety. If we do not change our strategic approach immediately, the battle, indeed even the war may be all but lost... Of late, much has been said in the popular and computer press about a vector that is annoying, but hardly critical in nature: 'Image spam'. Spammers have jumped on the new technology of 'image-only' payloads, which morph one pixel per message, rendering them unique, and traditional check-sum blocking strategies ineffective... Fortunately this fraudulent stock-touting scheme leaves a paper trail that has allowed for some successful prosecutions in the latter half of the year. Stock spamming, while popular at present time is likely to decline as legal actions increase... more»

Sex.com Settles Monumental Case Against VeriSign/Network Solutions

Sex.com announced today a final settlement with VeriSign (formerly Network Solutions, Inc.), concluding a six-year legal fight that set several important precedents for the future of the Internet. After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Sex.Com a sweeping victory that held VeriSign/Network Solutions, Inc. (collectively "VeriSign") strictly responsible for mishandling the famous domain name, Sex.Com and VeriSign have settled Sex.Com's lawsuit against VeriSign. more»

Port 25 Blocking, or Fix SMTP and Leave Port 25 Alone for the Sake of Spam?

Larry Seltzer wrote an interesting article for eWeek, on port 25 blocking, the reasons why it was being advocated, and how it would stop spam. This quoted an excellent paper by Joe St.Sauver, that raised several technically valid and true corollaries that have to be kept in mind when blocking port 25 -- "cough syrup for lung cancer" would be a key phrase... Now, George Ou has just posted an article on ZDNET that disagrees with Larry's article, makes several points that are commonly cited when criticizing port 25 blocking, but then puts forward the astonishing, and completely wrong, suggestion, that worldwide SPF records are going to be a cure all for this problem. Here is my reply to him... more»

North Dakota Judge Gets it Wrong

Ever been prosecuted for tracking spam? Running a traceroute? Doing a zone transfer? Asking a public internet server for public information that it is configured to provide upon demand? No? Well, David Ritz has. And amazingly, he lost the case. Here are just a few of the gems that the court has the audacity to call "conclusions of law." Read them while you go donate to David's legal defense fund... more»

Network Solutions Responds to Front Running Accusations

Following a post on the DomainState forum today, a number news and blogs have criticized Network Solutions for front running domain names that customers try to register. (See for instance today's report on DomainNameNews). Jonathon Nevett, Vice President of Policy at Network Solutions, has offered the following in response to the news break... more»

Nation of Cameroon Typo-Squats the Entire .com Space

The .cm (Cameroon) ccTLD operators have discovered that since their TLD is simply one omitted letter away from .com, that there is a gold mine in the typo traffic that comes their way. Accordingly, Cameroon has now wild-carded its ccTLD and is monetizing the traffic. The upshot is that, if the Neiman Marcus / Dotster lawsuit over 27 domain names was properly characterized as "massive", then the Cameroonians are now going well beyond massive... more»

Taking Back the DNS

Most new domain names are malicious. I am stunned by the simplicity and truth of that observation. Every day lots of new names are added to the global DNS, and most of them belong to scammers, spammers, e-criminals, and speculators. The DNS industry has a lot of highly capable and competitive registrars and registries who have made it possible to reserve or create a new name in just seconds, and to create millions of them per day. Domains are cheap, domains are plentiful, and as a result most of them are dreck or worse. more»

DNS Changer

One fine night in November 2011 I got an opportunity to get my hands dirty, working on a project for the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They were planning to seize a bunch of computing assets in New York City that were being used as part of a criminal empire that we called "DNS Changer" since that was the name of the software this gang used to infect a half million or so computers. more»

To Fight Domain Name Theft: Sex.com Gives Birth to a New Property Right

For those who are Star Wars fans, the following scene from the prequel, Attack of the Clones, will be easy to recall: a young and misinformed Jedi, known as Obi-waan Kenobi, opines about how an army of clones had been able to snatch a victory from imminent defeat. Yoda, a Jedi Master and virtual fountain of wisdom, immediately gushes forth an important correction: "Victory? Victory you say? Master Obi-waan, not victory." Yoda explains that winning a battle is not a victory, if the win merely signals that the war has just begun. Yoda's apparent perception seems particularly apt for the precedent setting federal court opinion involving the sex.com domain name. Notwithstanding that individual domain name registrants may seek comfort in the victory obtained from the Ninth Circuit's opinion in Kremen v. Cohen, that decision merely signals a beginning -- not an end -- to the controversy over the proper legal framework for resolving domain name theft.  more»

Top Public DNS Resolvers Compared

At ThousandEyes, we've always been curious about the performance of various public DNS resolvers -- especially since Google threw their hat in the ring back in 2009. We satisfied our curiosity this week, so we thought we'd share the results. Here's how we did it. more»

Do Not Enter - It's XXX

There soon will be a central place for Web surfers to dwell in a forbidden cyber land of adult fantasies, sex, dark rituals and total taboos. Finally, ICANN has given in to the pressure and has tossed a big rock across the turbulent e-commerce ocean. It has approved a new suffix, .xxx, for adult-only porn sites, creating ripples and debates in ever so confusing global cyber branding times when cyber global domain name challenges are being fought in the complex earthly trademark realities. Three things are bound to happen... more»

.XXX as Proposed is Wrong for Families & Kids

On August 23rd, the Internet Governance Project posted a letter Opposing Political Intervention in the Internet's Core Technical Administrative Functions. I disagree. ICANN and Governments should get involved when it comes to protecting children online. Every effort should be made to make it SIMPLE for average parents to let their children run free online without the risk of running across pornography and adult material while doing so. Why continue to let pornographers run free and unchecked on the most exciting tool created in the history of mankind just because they got there first? more»

China's New Domain Names: Lost in Translation

This morning I got a bunch of alarmist messages from friends asking about this English-language People's Daily article titled: China adds top-level domain names. The paragraph that's freaking people out is: "Under the new system, besides "CN", three Chinese TLD names "CN", "COM" and "NET" are temporarily set. It means Internet users don't have to surf the Web via the servers under the management of ICANN..." Not for the first time, it appears that the People's Daily's English translation is very misleading. more»

New Top-Level Domains Approved by ICANN

The Board of ICANN today gave final approval to the most dramatic change to the Internet in four decades -- allowing the expansion of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs). This monumental decision will allow companies and organizations to turn their own brands into Internet domain extensions (that is .brand) or to create broad generic strings such as .CAR, .SPORTS or .BANK. ICANN's TLD expansion plan was first announced three years ago on June 26, 2008 at the 32nd ICANN Meeting in Paris. more»

Letting DNS Loose

RFID tags, UPC codes, International characters in email addresses and host names, and a variety of other identifiers could all go into DNS, and folks have occasionally proposed doing just that. Its really just a question of figuring out how to use the DNS -- its ready to carry arbitrary identifiers. And by the way, this isn't a new idea, see RFC 1101 for proof, although even earlier I designed the DNS in the early 1980s to allow it to be so, but it seemed too far fetched to document for a while. ...I was in Geneva for a WSIS meeting of CTOs, and was surprised that the various organizations (ITU, ICANN, ISOC) haven't figured out that they need each other to make this technology work, rather than asserting ownership. more»