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Nominet suspends thousands of dodgy .UK domains

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Nominet has released a new report showing that a number of .UK domains have looked to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to commit criminal activity this year. 

With plenty of misinformation being shared in relation to the crisis, cybercriminals are clearly looking to take advantage.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, Nominet has looked to increase checks on new domain registrations. In the year leading up to October 28, the firm placed 3,811 domains related to Covid-19 on hold at the point of registration pending further registrant checks. Of these, 1,568 have now passed due diligence, while eight domains suspended for criminal activity were related to Covid-19.

Covid crime

Despite the efforts of cybercriminals to exploit the pandemic, 2020 has been a good year, in general, for Nominet and law enforcement officials with regard to rogue domain registrations. 

The number of .UK domains suspended following requests by law enforcement agencies between November 1, 2019, and October 31, 2020, was 22,158, a decrease from the 28,937 detailed in the previous report.

Phishing is on the rise, however. Nominet’s anti-phishing initiative saw 5,006 domains suspended over the twelve-month period, nearly double the number compared to the previous year. 

Once again, the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a huge rise in remote working, is probably the root cause of the increase.

“New anxieties are a bounty for cybercriminals who look to take advantage of others online for their own gains, not least by exploiting the pandemic,” Russell Haworth, Nominet CEO, said. “This year, we proactively sought to weed out coronavirus-related domains registered for criminal intent and had put on hold almost 4,000 by the end of October. With less than half passing the due diligence we require to reinstate them, it’s clearly helping keep scams at bay.”