What role should domain name registrars and registries play in combating web-based badware? And what stands in their way of being effective?
During our most recent Partners Forum call, we had an animated discussion related to these two questions. Our conversation covered a lot of ground, but here are a few key points that came up:
- There is substantial variation in how registries and registrars see their own roles. Some disavow any responsibility for addressing malicious name registrations. Others are much more hands-on.
- Registries and registrars come in all shapes and sizes. Smaller ones may need tools or support to manage abuse effectively.
- Often, for those reporting malicious URLs/sites, it's the hosting providers rather than the registrars/registries that are the best first point of contact. (Though in some cases, the hosting providers are the registrars.)
- Registrars/registries have understandable concerns about being overzealous in shutting down domains. It's easier to justify takedowns of harmful code than undesirable/illegal content, and of purely malicious domains than compromised domains. Registrars and registries need tools and data sources that help increase their confidence in differentiating between these cases.
- Takedowns are not the only remedy. Education of customers (in cases of compromise) can be a valuable role for registrars/registries (possibly in collaboration with StopBadware or other parties).
It's clear that we have not definitively answered our two questions, but we've come up with great fodder for further discussion and action. If you want to be part of the conversation, we're always looking to add new Partners.