A gTLD proposal to limit Internet fraud
1. Problem Statement
There is a growing and serious problem with fraudulent activity on the Internet, directed principally at consumers. The highest-profile of these is the fraud known as 'phishing', in which large volumes of unsolicited email - 'spam' - are sent to Internet users, purporting to come from financial organisations with whom some proportion of those users have an existing commercial relationship. These emails direct the unsuspecting user to a website which has the 'look and feel' of the impersonated organisation's website; through a variety of technical means, however, the computer which the consumer is directed to is in fact operated by a fraudster. In the most typical case, the user is fooled into supplying their account credentials - typically, a username and password - which allow the fraudster to subsequently impersonate the user, transferring money or other assets to the fraudster's benefit. The victim of the fraud may also have malicious software loaded onto their computer as a result of interacting with the fraudulent website; this malicious software may go on to copy to the fraudster the credentials needed to operate other accounts previously under the sole control of the victim.
Frequently, the victim of these 'phishing' frauds is enticed to the fraudster's website by the use of a 'URL' - a web-page address - which looks very similar to that of the legitimate site, but differs from it in some crucial way. Earlier phishing frauds used relatively crude methods - for example, using the digit 1 in place of the letter l (el), which in many typefaces are difficult to distinguish at a glance. Later versions use increasingly sophisticated means to disguise the true web address of the fraudulent computer.
2. Previous solution proposals
There have been numerous proposals to reduce the likelihood of these frauds succeeding. Some have been technical, such as adding features to the 'browser' software used by consumers to more clearly indicate a difference between the apparent and actual destination of 'hyperlinks'. Others have been focused primarily on user education, attempting to reach out to the population at large with such messaging as 'your real bank will never address you without using your proper forename and surname, and will never solicit you to enter your username and password at a website whose address is given to you in an email'. To date, neither the technical means nor the user-education drives have succeeded in reducing the growth of this novel form of e-enabled wealth redistribution.
3. A free-market resolution
In line with the dominant economic philosophy of our times, and the specific policy direction of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), we propose a free-market solution to this problem. Entrepreneurial wealth-transfer schemes described above as 'frauds' should be given their own gTLD (global top-level domain). To maximise the attractiveness of the new gTLD, and preserve its fit with the established business model of the interested community, we suggest that the most obvious gTLD to allocate is .con. This corrals the activlty into a known and regulable zone, which bears the requisite similarity to existing domain-name structures. It increases the efficiency of the wealth-transfer mechanisms, simplifying both the technical activities of those characterised as 'scammers' (who need no longer resort to increasingly obscure technical means to disguise the true address of their websites), allows a valuable new income stream for the succesful registrar applicants, and allows vendors of end-user internet-safety software to add a simple pop-up to warn users that they are visiting a .con domain - a warning which will be no less effective than the convoluted technical mechanisms currently in use.
uN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT information is ENCOURAGED.