Nominet Suspends 33,000 .UK Domains Following Law Enforcement Notifications

Almost 33,000 .uk domain names were suspended in the 12 months to the end of October 2018 following notification from the police or other law enforcement agencies that the domain name was being used for criminal activity.

In their update on .uk domain names suspended for criminal activity over the 12 months, the Tackling Online Criminal Activity report shows that the number of .uk domains suspended between 1 November 2017 and 31 October 2018 again doubled year on year to 32,813. This was an increase on the 16,632 suspensions over the preceding 12 month period which represents around 0.27% of the more than 12 million .UK domains currently registered.

Nominet, the .uk country code top level domain (ccTLD) manager, collaborates with ten reporting organisations and received requests from five of these. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) which processes and co-ordinates requests relating to IP infringements from nationwide sources is the main reporting agency with over 32,000 requests, followed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Trading Standards.

The vast majority of requests for suspension resulted in suspension with only 114 – up from 32 in the previous year – not resulting in a suspension. Reasons for domains not resulting in suspension include the domain name already being suspended by the Registrar or being transferred to the IP rights holder as a result of a court order in the meantime.

The number of suspensions that were reversed was 16 following successful reviews, and one suspension was upheld. A suspension is reversed if the offending behaviour has stopped and the enforcing agency has since confirmed that the suspension can be lifted.

The report also provided an update on domains suspended and blocked under Nominet’s proscribed names policy, introduced in May 2014. Over 2,700 domains were flagged – down from around 3,500 in 2017 (2,407 in 2016) – and no suspensions were made.

“The upward trend we are seeing in suspended domains confirms that criminals are continuing to seek opportunities in the UK namespace – be it the issue of counterfeits online, or where criminals relentlessly target consumers with malicious content, via domains registered for phishing,” said Russell Haworth, Nominet’s CEO.

“Our ongoing efforts to keep the namespace safe can also be seen through our Domain Watch initiative that uses a technical algorithm to promptly suspend newly-registered domains with a very high phishing risk. Since July this year, 129 domains targeting the private and public sector have been suspended – for example barc1ays.co.uk or security-paypal.co.uk.

“Working closely with the law enforcement community and using our established processes, network analytics and cyber security tools, will ensure that .UK remains a difficult space for criminals to operate.”

See the Nominet infographic for full details of the report.