Police efforts to shut down fraudulent websites accused of being a stopgap measure at best or maybe a waste of time

News by Dan Raywood

The efforts by the Metropolitan Police to shutdown over 1,200 sites has been applauded but will lead to sites being established elsewhere.

The efforts by the Metropolitan Police to shutdown over 1,200 sites has been applauded but will lead to sites being established elsewhere.

Although he applauded and supported the effort of 'Operation Papworth', Rik Ferguson, senior security advisor at Trend Micro, said that this represents a stopgap measure at best and a simple waste of time at worst.

Ferguson said: “The root cause remains unaddressed and I fully expect these same sites to reappear under different names in the very near future. The sites themselves have not been ‘taken down' at all as far as I can tell.

“What has happened is that Nominet, the body responsible for the .uk top-level domain has simply broken the link between the domain name and the server the site is based on. What does that mean? It means when you type www.globalugg.co.uk into your browser it doesn't go anywhere anymore.

“To bring my whole scam back to life all I have to do is register a new domain and point it to the same server as before, maybe just for variety's sake this time with a Ukrainian registrar. And that is the real issue, far too many DNS domains, including .co.uk and those of many other countries, are operated as ‘open' domains.”

Ferguson pointed to the words of Nominet, whose guidelines on SLDs state ‘we do not impose restrictions on your status as applicant for the registration of a Domain Name in the following SLDs ("Open SLDs”): 4.4.1 .co.uk or 4.4.2 .org.uk'.

It also states ‘In the SLD Charter of the SLD Rules for the Open SLDs we do set out certain intentions regarding the class of applicant or use of registrations of the domain name which we assume you will comply with when applying for a registration of a domain name within an Open SLD. However, we do not forbid applications, and will take no action in respect of registrations that do not comply with the SLD charters'.

“Until regulation is tightened and international cooperation is improved then well-intentioned initiatives like Operation Papworth will be micturating in the tempest,” said Ferguson.

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