TLDs increase chance for malicious activity

Researchers say that the generation of new web addresses has brought about a free-for-all as cyber-criminals hustle to spread malware or steal personal information with new websites.

According to a study by Blue Coat entitled “The Web's Shadiest Neighborhoods”, more than 95 percent of websites in 10 different top-level domains (TLDs), such as .zip and .review, are considered suspicious.

“Due to the explosion of TLDs in recent years, we have seen a staggering number of almost entirely shady Web neighborhoods crop up at an alarming rate,” said Blue Coat chief technology officer Hugh Thompson. “The increase in Shady TLDs ... is in turn providing increased opportunity for the bad guys to partake in malicious activity.”

In the initial days of the internet, there were only six common TLDs, or “neighborhoods”, which included .com, .org, .gov and a bunch of country domains. Since 2013, the number of TLDs has escalated, with more than 1,000 in June.

TLDs have proven worthy for cyber-criminals looking to buy domain names to spam users, spread malware or conduct phishing campaigns.

Researchers analysed hundreds of millions of Web requests and found that 100 percent of sites hosted in .zip and .review TLDs are untrustworthy. ICANN voted to remove many restrictions on generic TLD names to promote innovation and competition in the digital space. They began accepting applications for new TLDs in 2012.