Law enforcement cracks the whip on dodgy .UK domains – and it’s working

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The number of suspended .UK domain names has dropped significantly over the past twelve months following notification from police and other law enforcement agencies, the report says.

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According to the Domain Registry Nominee, the number of suspended .UK domain names being used for criminal activities has decreased from 22,158 last year to 3,434 in 2021. The decline was in large part due to a decrease in counterfeit sites picking up the .UK domain, as reported by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

This year, Nominate received a total of 539 separate domain suspension requests from law enforcement agencies in the UK, of which 11 of 13 came from the company’s own reporting organisations.

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As a result of several different security initiatives, domain registration was also withheld in cases where criminal activity was suspected by Domain Watch, Nominet’s anti-phishing service. The service suspended approximately 5,500 domains, up from 5,000 in 2020.

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Nick Weinban-Smith, General Counsel and Head of Stakeholder Relations at Nominate, said: “We have seen an increase in some reporting agencies this year, particularly around online fraud and financial crime. However, the total number of .UK domains associated with criminality remains the same. Still less than the previous years which is a positive result for all the users.”

“This trend is largely due to the huge reduction in suspensions related to intellectual property crime. This is a testimony to the success of a joint initiative – Operation Aashiko in collaboration with PIPCU and Nominet – on the DNS of websites that sell and distribute counterfeit goods. Following the full mapped evaluation is working to reduce the amount of counterfeit sites. We will not go into detail of the project for obvious reasons, but it has produced positive results as online criminals now see the UK as a viable option are not looking.

The number of domains that were not suspended was 18 – down from 47 last year, mainly because those domains had already been suspended and transferred on court orders.

“As custodians of the .UK namespace, it is in our DNA to ensure that it is safe and secure for the millions of individuals and businesses that use it,” said Eleanor Bradley, MD, Registry and Public Benefits at Nominate.

“It is always encouraging to see that our collaborative approach with the LEA and our Domain Watch initiative is making a significant dent in the number of domains requiring suspension as .UK becomes increasingly unattractive to criminals.”

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