The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) decision yesterday to allow new domain names could open up new risks to internet users and companies running websites.
Paul Twomey, president and CEO of ICANN, said, "The Board today accepted a recommendation from its global stakeholders that it is possible to implement many new names to the internet, paving the way for an expansion of domain name choice and opportunity".
The decision means that businesses would be able to apply for new top level domains such as ".travel" for the travel industry, to supplement the existing names such as ".com" and ".co.uk". ICANN said there has already been interest from consortiums wanting to establish city-based top level domain, such as ".nyc" (for New York City), ".berlin" and ".paris".
Pete Simpson, ThreatLab Manager at Clearswift, said, "Allowing new domain names that identify very clearly the content of an internet site will have a huge impact on the vulnerability of such sites to cyber-criminals. Using suffixes such as '.gamble' or '.xxx', is like a big illuminated sign pointing out that thousands of people's financial details are inputted into those sites every day".
Other specialists warned that a significant growth in the number of new top level domains could devalue the market in domian names. This could push domain registrars out of business, potentially leaving businesses with websites that do not work.
Emily Taylor, director of legal and policy at Nominet, warned. "More options for top level domains is a good thing but if there are a lot of top level domains, registers could go out of business".