ICANN domain expansion could increase phishing

The ICANN board gave final approval to what some are calling “the most dramatic change to the Internet in four decades” allowing the expansion of new Top-Level Domains.

There’s a lot of pushing and shoving in the media about this decision, with some very vocal proponents and those who have fought against this move.

Some argue this ICANN initiative could force a land grab of domains by businesses to protect their company reputation. However, they aren’t the only ones who are likely to try to snag these new top level domains.

There’s a very legitimate concern that cybercriminals could also seek these new domains to create legitimate looking websites using well-known brand names.

These can then be used for phishing attacks or delivery of Trojan malware to unsuspecting visitors. For example – imagine you received an email from “yourbank.bank.” You might tend to trust those emails, but in the beginning at least, you wouldn’t necessarily know if this came from the institution in which you have accounts.

The biggest brands will all reach out to ensure they get control of most of the top-level domains using their brand name, but the mid-to-small level businesses may not have the resources to do so.

Spencer Parker, Group Product Manager at Websense comments: “This is where the largest danger will lie. I can see for example, small regional banks with small IT departments being taken advantage of in this way. ICANN will need to strictly enforce its policies and stringent evaluation procedures for generic top level domains so that the bad guys don’t get their hands on them.”

Businesses need to do two things in preparation for the introduction of these new domains:

1. Ensure that your brand is protected by preregistering your company name and trademarks under the new top-level domains and secure the rights to these.

2. Take precautions so that your employees at work and at home aren’t accidently accessing bogus sites by ensuring they are protected by a unified security solution that can protect access to these malicious sites in real time. This will prevent the malware from getting into your company network.

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