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20 May 2008, 15:14

Spam domains use small number of registrars

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The Knujon anti-spam project – "no junk" spelled backwards – says that only 20 registrars worldwide register 90 per cent of all web sites advertised in spam emails. The registrars under criticism include China's Xinnet Bei Gon Da Software, BEIJINGNN, and Todaynic, which come in 18th, 47th, and 99th in the list of providers sorted by global market share. In Knujon's list of the "10 Worst Registrars", the top three are Chinese, German registrar Joker comes in fourth, and the rest are American.

In their analysis, the activists at Knujon spent more than a year assessing the links in millions of spam emails in order to assign the domains to registrars. In addition to the total number of domains managed and spam domains hosted, factors such as brand visibility also played a role in the ranking.

Not surprisingly, the assessment of spam domains revealed that spammers generally use inaccurate or falsified registration data to prevent victims from finding them via WHOIS databases. Knujon co-founder Garth Bruen told the Washington Post that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is partly to blame. While he admits that ICANN does not have the authority to clamp down on spam and other abuses, it does have the mandate to force registrars to make sure that WHOIS entries are correct.

Over the past few months, Bruen says that Knujon has reported so many inaccurate entries to ICANN that its database reportedly crashed a few times. Bruen says he even warned ICANN beforehand that their databases would crash under the onslaught of complaints. Knujon is not alone in voicing this criticism. US organisations and consumer protectionists have long criticised ICANN for being too lax on registrars who violate provisions pertaining to WHOIS or fail to take corrective action against possible domain squatters. They therefore oppose the privatization of ICANN, which they feel will make the situation even worse.

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