Live Trading News 2015-08-29 10:01:44

Major Companies Line Up For Branded Domain Names

$GOOGL, $WMT, $VRSN, $BCS, $TGT, $HD

Anyone with $9.99 can buy a Web address that ends in “.com.”

Online scammers can pay for an address that looks like that of a bank, a clothier, or an auto dealer and create a site that looks enough like the original to trick the online consumer into buying fake merchandise or revealing logins and passwords.

Every day, almost 1,000 Americans file some kind of identity-theft complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission, and about 750 report being scammed by an impostor, as in a “phishing” scheme.

That is part of the reason hundreds of businesses, from Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) to Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), have paid $185,000 to apply for the rights to Web domains that read: .google or .walmart.

Companies buying these eponymous Top-tier domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit that runs distribution of domain names under the oversight of the US Department of Commerce will, in theory, be able to strictly limit who creates pages on them.

Of the 1,930 applications for the new Internet real estate, 534 came from companies buying up their trademarks, according to ICAN. Addresses that end in .com or .net will continue to be controlled by Reston,VA based networking company Verisign (NASDAQ:VRSN).

Companies such as Chanel and Hermès say self-branded domains will help them combat the sale of counterfeit goods from imitation websites.

“These sophisticated criminal activities cause reputational damage to businesses as Internet users lose consumer confidence and trust,” Chanel said in applying for .chanel.

Companies filed applications in Y 2012, but contracts were not due until this past July, so most “not-coms” are not expected to roll out their new domains until later this year or next.

Banks are especially interested in private, branded Web domains.

Barclays Bank (NYSE:BCS) was an early mover, shifting its corporate home page from barclays.com to home.barclays in May. The more important customer-login pages haven’t switched over yet, and the bank did not disclose a target date

 

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is awaiting ICANN approval for .jpmorgan, .chase, and .jpmorganchase. They’ have also joined more than 5,500 companies in applying for .bank addresses through fTLD Registry Services, an organization backed by the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable that works to secure generic domain names for banks and insurers.

This is a sort of middle ground between an eponymous domain name and a .com. These new dot-categories, including .coupons, .city, and .meme, leave some room for the speculators known as cyber-squatters, who buy up addresses to sell later at a marked-up price, though the application price tag should dissuade all but the most determined.

Companies are betting that operating their own domains will be more secure because they are directly in control of the security and maintenance.

The catch is that they will have to take more responsibility for oversight of their private domains than they did in Verisign’s dot-com world. “They’re more in control of their brand and potentially more in control of their own security,” he says, adding that companies will need to make sure their domains’ underlying network architectures are functional and secure, which they did not before.

It will take time to retrain customers who have been typing “.com” for 20 yrs to make the new addresses their defaults, and the interim confusion could provide an opening to scammers.

In any case, some of the Internet’s security problems cannot  be solved with new URLs, ICANN’s CTO. Targeted attacks such as those against Target (NYSE:TGT) and Home Depot NYSE:HD) focused on weak spots in the underlying networks, like credit card readers, he says.

ICANN’s own record on cybersecurity makes clear just how difficult it can be. The naming organization announced on 6 August that its own website had been hacked and encrypted usernames, passwords, and e-Mail addresses had been stolen.

ICANN declined to comment on the hack or on a December phishing attack that compromised its e-Mail servers and internal network.

Have a terrific weekend.

HeffX-LTN

Paul Ebeling

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