There’s a downside to the relative freedom and lack of gatekeepers on the internet, including that anyone can buy a web address that ends in ‘.com.’ Online scammers can pay $10 for an address that looks like that of your bank, your favourite clothier, or your auto dealer and create a site that looks like the original to trick you into buying phoney merchandise or revealing your login and password. Every day, almost 1,000 Americans file some kind of identity-theft complaint, and about 750 report being scammed by an impostor.That’s why hundreds of businesses, from Google
, have paid $185,000 to apply for the rights to web domains
that read, say, .google or .walmart. Compa nies buying these eponymous toplevel domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) -the nonprofit that runs distribution of domain names under the oversight of the US department of commerce -will in theory be able to strictly limit who creates pages on them. Of the 1,930 applications for the new internet real estate
, 534 came from companies buying up their trademarks, said Icann.Companies such as Chanel and Hermes say self-branded domains will help them combat the sale of counterfeit goods from imitation websites. “These criminal activities cause reputational damage to businesses as internet users lose consumer confidence and trust,” Chanel said. Companies filed applications in 2012, but contracts weren’t due until this July, so most not-coms aren’t expected to roll out their new domains until later this year or next.
Unsurprisingly , banks too have joined in the bandwagon.JPMorgan Chase is awaiting Icann approval for .jpmorgan, .chase and .jpmorganchase, joining 5,500 firms in applying for .bank addresses through fTLD Registry Services, an organization backed by American Bank ers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable that works to secure generic domain names for banks and insurers.
This is a sort of middle ground between an eponymous domain name and a .com. Companies are betting that operating their own domains will be more secure because they’re directly in control of the security and maintenance. The catch, says Ken Westin, an analyst with cybersecurity company Tripwire, is that they’ll have to take more responsibility for oversight of their private domains than they did in dot-com world.