Our Estimate: Verisign Manages Over 100 Million .COM Domains

Our Estimate: Verisign Manages Over 100 Million .COM Domains

A number of organizations track the .com domain registrations without taking into consideration the complete picture, thus underestimating the current count. Our research shows that the .com count is already well past that number.

Verisign publishes a daily “zone file” of registered .com domain names with their associated nameservers.  Yesterday the zone file listed 99,837548 .com domain names and that number has been growing by an average of about 22,000 net new .com domain names per day so far in 2012.  But there are two general categories of domain names that exist but are not listed in the zone files.

The first category is well known, at least to people who work in and around the domain industry:  domains in the Redemption or Pending Delete periods.  Each day tens of thousands of .com domain names hit their renewal date. There are currently 2.1 million .com domain names in either Redemption or Pending Delete status.

The second category is much less well known, a category DomainTools refers to as ‘dark domains’.  Domain names that exist, but are not pointed to nameservers, are not listed in the zone file and therefore not counted by most sites that track domain registration data.   An example of such a domain is Spectrum.com; it exists but has no nameservers, and does not resolve to a website.  Another example is theexpertcare.com; the Whois record indicates a fraud alert on the domain name and a ‘suspended’ status.  This domain is also not in the zone file and yet is certainly not available for anyone to register.

Only Verisign knows for sure how big the list of dark domains is, but we have conducted ongoing proprietary research that reveals over 400,000 known dark .com domain names, as found in blank-nameserver.com.  This count is included in the  recently updated domain statistics data on our DailyChanges.com website.  Our calculation of .com domains includes those listed in the zone file plus the dark domains.  With that information in mind, we calculated the current total of .com domains managed by Verisign to be over 100.2 million.

100 million actively registered domains is an enormous achievement for the dominant TLD worldwide, and congratulations are in order for Verisign and the registrars which support .com.

As we all know, .com is the biggest top-level domain by a long, long way. For comparison, the next biggest gTLD today is .net with a relatively small 14 million domains. In country codes, Germany’s .de leads with almost 15 million. The closest competitor to .com among the gTLDs introduced by ICANN since the year 2000 is .info, with about eight million domains.

There’s no doubt at all that .com is the domain of choice for most of the world, but it’s taken it a long time to get to 100 million. From its creation in early 1985, it took the registry two and a half years to reach just 100 active names. It was not until 1997, in the middle of the rightly-named dot-com boom, that the one millionth concurrently active .com domain name was registered.  In addition, there have been over 300 million other unique .com domain names registered and deleted since the inception of the TLD.

Our records show that the biggest growth period for active .com names came between 2005 and 2007, the height of the domain tasting craze. During this time, many domain investors used a loophole in registration rules to sample type-in traffic for free.  Investors kept the domains they found that were most likely to profit from pay-per-click parking. In 2006 the .com zone grew by over 14 million names, driven by this speculation. In both 2005 and 2007, it grew by over 12 million names.

Since then, a change to ICANN’s rules means the tasting market has dropped to virtually nothing, but the .com zone continues to grow faster than it did pre-tasting, showing an increased demand for domain names as more new Internet users come online globally. In 2011, DomainTools counted almost 8 million net new active .com names added to the DNS. The number was about the same in 2010.

The big question in 2012 is: what will new gTLDs – such as .web, .music, .green, .shop, .paris, .gay and all the others, not to mention “dot-brand” domains – mean for .com? Many people believe that .com’s position is unassailable, that .com will always be king.

Will new gTLDs mean that .com will grow more slowly in future? Will companies use their new branded gTLD domains instead of buying up thousands of defensive .com registrations? Or is it more likely that for every registration in a new gTLD a company makes, it still feels the need to register a matching .com domain? Nobody knows the answers to these questions yet, but it’s going to be fun finding out!

What do you think?

Our Estimate: Verisign Manages Over 100 Million .COM Domains

Our Estimate: Verisign Manages Over 100 Million .COM Domains

A number of organizations track the .com domain registrations without taking into consideration the complete picture, thus underestimating the current count. Our research shows that the .com count is already well past that number.

Verisign publishes a daily “zone file” of registered .com domain names with their associated nameservers.  Yesterday the zone file listed 99,837548 .com domain names and that number has been growing by an average of about 22,000 net new .com domain names per day so far in 2012.  But there are two general categories of domain names that exist but are not listed in the zone files.

The first category is well known, at least to people who work in and around the domain industry:  domains in the Redemption or Pending Delete periods.  Each day tens of thousands of .com domain names hit their renewal date. There are currently 2.1 million .com domain names in either Redemption or Pending Delete status.

The second category is much less well known, a category DomainTools refers to as ‘dark domains’.  Domain names that exist, but are not pointed to nameservers, are not listed in the zone file and therefore not counted by most sites that track domain registration data.   An example of such a domain is Spectrum.com; it exists but has no nameservers, and does not resolve to a website.  Another example is theexpertcare.com; the Whois record indicates a fraud alert on the domain name and a ‘suspended’ status.  This domain is also not in the zone file and yet is certainly not available for anyone to register.

Only Verisign knows for sure how big the list of dark domains is, but we have conducted ongoing proprietary research that reveals over 400,000 known dark .com domain names, as found in blank-nameserver.com.  This count is included in the  recently updated domain statistics data on our DailyChanges.com website.  Our calculation of .com domains includes those listed in the zone file plus the dark domains.  With that information in mind, we calculated the current total of .com domains managed by Verisign to be over 100.2 million.

100 million actively registered domains is an enormous achievement for the dominant TLD worldwide, and congratulations are in order for Verisign and the registrars which support .com.

As we all know, .com is the biggest top-level domain by a long, long way. For comparison, the next biggest gTLD today is .net with a relatively small 14 million domains. In country codes, Germany’s .de leads with almost 15 million. The closest competitor to .com among the gTLDs introduced by ICANN since the year 2000 is .info, with about eight million domains.

There’s no doubt at all that .com is the domain of choice for most of the world, but it’s taken it a long time to get to 100 million. From its creation in early 1985, it took the registry two and a half years to reach just 100 active names. It was not until 1997, in the middle of the rightly-named dot-com boom, that the one millionth concurrently active .com domain name was registered.  In addition, there have been over 300 million other unique .com domain names registered and deleted since the inception of the TLD.

Our records show that the biggest growth period for active .com names came between 2005 and 2007, the height of the domain tasting craze. During this time, many domain investors used a loophole in registration rules to sample type-in traffic for free.  Investors kept the domains they found that were most likely to profit from pay-per-click parking. In 2006 the .com zone grew by over 14 million names, driven by this speculation. In both 2005 and 2007, it grew by over 12 million names.

Since then, a change to ICANN’s rules means the tasting market has dropped to virtually nothing, but the .com zone continues to grow faster than it did pre-tasting, showing an increased demand for domain names as more new Internet users come online globally. In 2011, DomainTools counted almost 8 million net new active .com names added to the DNS. The number was about the same in 2010.

The big question in 2012 is: what will new gTLDs – such as .web, .music, .green, .shop, .paris, .gay and all the others, not to mention “dot-brand” domains – mean for .com? Many people believe that .com’s position is unassailable, that .com will always be king.

Will new gTLDs mean that .com will grow more slowly in future? Will companies use their new branded gTLD domains instead of buying up thousands of defensive .com registrations? Or is it more likely that for every registration in a new gTLD a company makes, it still feels the need to register a matching .com domain? Nobody knows the answers to these questions yet, but it’s going to be fun finding out!

What do you think?

A Visual Gallery: Which Sites Protested SOPA & PIPA on January 18th?

A Visual Gallery: Which Sites Protested SOPA & PIPA on January 18th?

As most are aware, today, Wednesday, January 18th, thousands of websites went dark to protest SOPA & PIPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and (Protect IP Act) similar to sites like Wired.comWired.com, as seen in the image.

DomainTools provisioned its historic thumbnailing service on a new site called Screenshots.com, as announced in December.  Today, we customized that service to capture the homepages of websites that are protesting SOPA & PIPA so you can see how their content and message has changed in light of the protest.

To memorialize this historic event in Internet history, we also created a specific page to feature and archive a sampling of many of the sites as they existed today.

If you would like to learn more, here are a few good sources regarding the acts and protest:

It should be noted that a number of companies in the domain space have joined the fight, including our friends at Tucows and NameCheap.

If you visit Screenshots.com, you can queue other sites for screen capture by using the link on the right side of the search results page.  If we do not yet have any screenshots for your site, by searching for the site on Screenshots.comScreenshots.com you have automatically queued it for capture.

Politics and Disposable Domain Names

Politics and Disposable Domain Names

With the news not too long ago that Republican Jack Abramoff is fighting to get control of jackabramoff.comjackabramoff.com from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I thought I’d take a look at the always tricky subject of domain names used in politics.

Abramoff is just the latest in a long line of people in political circles to have risked embarrassment by not registering their names in .com. Registering the name of a political opponent – or somebody you simply disagree with – to criticize them online is a common tactic during election cycles.

To name just one example, when former eBay CEO Meg Whitman ran for governor of California in 2010, she found she had to fight for megwhitmanforgovernor.commegwhitmanforgovernor.com and a handful of other relevant domains, which had been registered by somebody else, using the UDRP. And she lost!

Because the UDRP is especially unpredictable when it comes to personal names, if you’re running for office the only way to defend yourself from these kind of attacks is to register as many variations of your name as possible. Even if you win, the UDRP process can run for many weeks, more than enough time for embarrassing headlines and a loss of political capital.

Elections come and go, and some – but definitely not all – political domains are what I call “disposable” domains.

Here in Washington state, voters recently approved Initiative 1183 to privatize liquor sales, following a campaign that was hosted at yeson1183.comyeson1183.com. That domain has a limited opportunity for re-use. But the unsuccessful campaign for the “no” vote was hosted at protectourcommunities.comprotectourcommunities.com – a fantastic domain that could be used for any number of future political campaigns.

Just because a campaign is over, it does not mean that you should let your domain expire. While johnsmith2011.comjohnsmith2011.com may be disposable, johnsmithforgovernor.comjohnsmithforgovernor.com may not. There’s always the next election cycle to think about! The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, discovered this the hard way this year when he was forced to file a UDRP for the expired domain backboris.combackboris.com, which he’d used to get elected in 2008 and plans to use again in 2012.

Politicians may not think about inbound links and SEO when they’re campaigning for office, but lots of domain investors do. Even a domain that may appear temporary and “disposable” will have attracted lots of links during a campaign; if it’s allowed to expire it will be snapped up for the traffic. If it’s subsequently registered by somebody who uses it to drive traffic to controversial services – such as gambling or pornography – that could harm the politician’s image. Once a domain has expired, it could be used for anything, even re-registered by a political rival.

Politics is a dog-eat-dog world, the Internet is increasingly being used to reach out to voters and far too many politicians don’t think carefully enough about their domain names.

How To Stop Typosquatters from Stealing Your Email

How To Stop Typosquatters from Stealing Your Email

Here at DomainTools we’re well aware of the importance companies place on protecting their brands online, especially when it comes to using our tools to hunt down cybersquatting and typosquatting. But typosquatting is not just a problem for brand managers any more, as recent shocking research has shown.

A security company called Godai recently managed to steal 120,000 emails – a huge 20 GB of data, including passwords and trade secrets – simply by registering typo domain names of large global companies.

We’re all familiar with typosquatters registering names such as wwwgoogle.comwwwgoogle.com in order to try to steal traffic from people who mistype www.google.com, and what Godai did was similar. But instead of targeting web traffic, the researchers aimed at domains used for email traffic. They called these domains “Doppelgangers”, but in reality they’re no different to a regular typo.

Some large multinational companies use three-level domains in their employees’ email addresses to show where in the world they are located. A IBM employee might have an @ca.ibm.com address if they’re based in Canada or @mx.ibm.com if they’re based in Mexico, for example.

Godai registered typos of these domains, merging the second and third levels into something like caibm.comcaibm.com, then set up catch-all email accounts and sat back and waited for the typo emails to come flooding in. And flood in they did – the company managed to capture hundreds of passwords, private employee documents and corporate trade secrets.

The researchers found that 30% of the Fortune 100 companies were vulnerable to such attacks, and that many appeared to have already been typosquatted in this way, often by registrants based in China.

With the internet being used increasingly for corporate espionage, it’s important to monitor for typos not only of primary brands, but also of domains used in sensitive internal communications.

DomainTools can help. Our Typo Finder not only generates possible typos that you can then defensively register, it also tells you whether the domains have already been registered and to whom, enabling you to conduct a further investigation or pursue a cybersquatting complaint.

Typo Finder can find domains that look like your own but for a single missing or transposed letter, or proximity-based typing slip-ups such as using an N instead of an M. The kind of typo you want to see in your output is completely configurable through a simple interface.

Combined with other DomainTools services such as Reverse Whois, Name Server Reports and Reverse IP, our Typo Finder is one of the most powerful and cost-effective fraud mitigation tools available. If you’re at all concerned about being at risk from email theft, you should check it out!