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Will plan to expand Web domains cause failures and fraud?

July 15, 2013

Industry officials say a plan to dramatically expand the number of Web addresses could cause widespread disruption to Internet operations. As The Washington Post reports, the plan to add more than 1,000 possible new domains — such as “.buy” and “.casino” — is potentially worth billions of dollars in annual licensing fees and has created a scramble among investors to scoop up this virgin Internet real estate.

Assigning Web domains to those used internally by corporations — such as “.corp” or “.home” — could cause systems to fail, block email or other internal programs, and open sensitive information to theft, experts reportedly say. “This could affect a million enterprises,” says Danny McPherson, chief security officer for VeriSign, which manages several of the most popular existing domains. “It could absolutely break things.”

The nonprofit group that oversees the designation of Web addresses, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has not adequately studied the impact of the new domain names and lacks procedures for responding quickly if systems malfunction, McPherson and other security experts reportedly say.

Corporate leaders complain that the sheer number of new domains will cause a sharp rise in fraud and abuse, as criminals create Web addresses intended to deceive consumers. Defenders of the plan call such fears overblown, arguing that potential problems will be resolved before new domains are approved. Jeffrey Moss, chief security officer for ICANN, says “We’re not going to do anything that harms the security or stability of the Internet.”Greg Beaubien


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