Nominet Identifies Around 500 Potentially Malicious .UK Domains Related To Covid-19

Nominet has suspended over 180 .uk domain names related to
the current Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic with a blend of manual and automated
checking processes that has helped the .uk registry to identify, at the point
of registration, which new domains are likely to be used for phishing.

When a domain is identified as suspicious – based on algorithm and then a manual check – are suspended until, as Eleanor Bradley, MD Registry Solutions and Public Benefit at Nominet explained in a blog post last week, the registry sees evidence of good intentions from the registrants. As a result, a small proportion responded to their satisfaction and had their domain names reactivated.

It’s highly likely that those who did not respond were
intending to use their domains to manipulate a public in need of information. With
Nominet preventing these domains from entering the registry is a priority to
ensure users of our national namespace are kept as safe as possible.

Not all domain names relating to the current pandemic are
registered for malicious purposes with Nominet acknowledging some are for
legitimate reasons including pharmaceutical trials, topical blogs or community
groups offering support.

But it’s not only at the point of registration that the .uk
country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registry is picking up potentially
malicious registrations. Nominet is also always working collaboratively with UK
law enforcement to ensure they can monitor domains that have already been
registered for any criminal activity. In this way, they have identified a list
of over 300 domains that are using the terms ‘covid-19’ or ‘coronavirus’ in
their domain name which, as is usual practice, Nominet has shared with the
appropriate regulatory authority for guidance. It should be noted that some of
these will be innocent, as ‘corona’ appears in other words such as coronation –
or Corona beer – and so some unrelated websites will inevitably be collected in
their searches, which will not be acted upon.

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