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    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Keith Teare's Iconoclastic Take on the SiteFinder Report | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 21 comments | Search Discussion
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    Security involves economics
    by GeorgeK on Thursday July 22 2004, @09:28PM (#14006)
    User #3191 Info | http://www.kirikos.com/
    [I saw the piece on CircleID first, so my comments are the same]

    Security isn't an absolute concept -- it's a relative one.

    I'm entirely happy with a system that would cost on the order of $6*(37)^60 per year (or more) to "break", just as I'd be happy with a $10 bicycle lock protecting a $500 bike that would cost $75,000 for an attacker to cut through. Indeed, I'd be happy to see someone go ahead and spend the money to prove Keith right. The fact that they don't proves that his point is invalid, as economics is part of the security equation. I'm sure Bruce Schneier [schneier.com] has made the same point on numerous occasions in his newsletters (that's where I'm sure I picked up the concept years ago), but it's a bit too late tonight for me to find a reference.

    SiteFinder is bad for a large number of other reasons besides security, as one can read in the almost 20,000 petition signatures at Stop VeriSign DNS Abuse [whois.sc]. One reason that's important to people like myself who are concerned about competition is that VeriSign is getting those domains for free under their dream scenario, giving it an advantage solely due to it's monopoly. That's an abuse of its monopoly, and outside of the scope of the Registry agreement. As one person had noted, it would be like the company who was contracted to clean the highways decided to earn some extra money by putting up signs along the highway too, without authorization. SiteFinder is worse, because of all the cost-shifting it causes on third parties.

    Another concern is the massive typosquatting that SiteFinder is taking advantage of, diluting the value of the PAYING domain registrants. Furthermore, because there is no WHOIS for those domains, under VeriSign's dream scenario, they'd not be liable under UDRP, etc. Since a lot of the damage is of the nature of "death by a thousand cuts" (i.e. $2/yr here, $1/yr there $0.06 yr elsewhere), the individual damage from each domain that is typosquatted on is small, but added up (on the order of 37^60), it becomes hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to the worldwide community (i.e. enough traffic to vault SiteFinder into the top 20 internet sites in the world is a lot of typos). The non-zero price of domain registrations prevents a lot of typosquatting, because it would become uneconomic. As any economist will tell you, a lot of bad things can and will happen if something is made "free". "Limit"-case solutions can be ugly.

    Keith is still listed on the board of directors of SnapNames [snapnames.com], which has an interest in keeping favourable relations with VeriSign, due to WLS [fightwls.com]. I remember the good old days of SnapNames and the WLS debate, when SnapNames employees were visiting my website almost everyday. I don't see many hits from them anymore, as they've really scaled back to a skeleton crew, and reduced their product offerings, as they take a beating from Pool.com, eNom, Namewinner and other competitors. RealNames was another disappointment. Join the winning team, Keith, against SiteFinder, as 3-strikes and you're out, and so far the count isn't looking too good. :)
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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    "VeriSign is getting those domains for free"
    by Anonymous on Friday July 23 2004, @08:17AM (#14015)
    "VeriSign is getting those domains for free under their dream scenario, giving it an advantage solely due to it's monopoly."
    ===

    That monopoly is short-lived and anyone with a
    small amount of technical clue (including Verisign)
    knows that.

    North America is rapidly moving to a Walled-Garden
    Internet arrangement. Consumers actually want that
    and have assumed for years *that* is the way the
    Internet works.

    Also, when you say "monopoly" you have to be
    clear on whether you mean the monopoly of
    running the servers for $6 per year OR the
    monopoly on the dominant TLDs (.COM and .NET).

    The second monopoly is a mind-share monopoly.
    That is what makes the Walled-Garden Internet
    arrangement possible. The vast majority of
    Internet users assume a company owns Name.COM
    and Name.NET and that is all they need to find
    them. .COM and .NET name owners will have to
    PAY to be visible in thousands of Walled Gardens
    around the world. Verisign may still operate
    the servers behind the scenes, but the Filter
    Devices will create the Walled Gardens. If
    the .COM and .NET owners do not pay, then all
    of the cable-modem-like devices will re-direct
    users to a different message. For some .COM
    and .NET name owners, that may be just fine
    with them. They may not want wealthy, broad-band,
    always-on, highly-educated, affluent users
    accessing their servers.

    The technology is in place and the Walled Gardens
    are coming. Verisign knows that and they actually
    tried to do the Internet Society a favor by
    locking people into the centralized model. Now
    the Internet Society will get something they
    (the ISOC) really do not want. The ISOC will
    find that .ORG is completely shut off and .COM
    and .NET will grow and prosper with Verisign
    behind the scenes and the Walled Gardens at
    the edges collecting tolls that do not go to
    the ISOC insiders.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]


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