May 21 2012

ICANN: .secure TLD Could Become a Safe Zone on the Web

A security group has applied for a new top level domain with the hope of carving out a more secure space on the web.

The final list of applicants from ICANN’s open call for new top level domains hasn’t been released, but one TLD, .secure, has been confirmed as a contender.

The group of security experts sponsoring the application calls itself Artemis Internet. So far, the organization has raised $9.6 million in funding for the initiative, according to a report from Wired.

Currently on the web, users are vulnerable to all kind of malware attacks and identity theft attempts, Artemis backers claim. Moving domains to a .secure domain, which would follow a strict set of security rules and regulations, would enable users to know easily that the site they’re on is safe and free of nefarious schemes.

“This is our opportunity to make our mark and do something to improve the security of the Internet permanently, while it’s still a bit malleable,” said Alex Stamos, chief technology officer of iSec Partners (which is part of Artemis) in an interview with Wired. “We have a chance to create a neighborhood on the Internet where security is required, and users know that. We have the ability since we’re starting from scratch to have a floor.”

In a story for The New York Times’ Bits blog, Jeremiah Grossman, CTO at WhiteHat Security, chimed in on the Wild West environment of today’s Internet, saying, “I’m surprised the Web has survived this long. The only thing keeping it alive, at this point, is the fact the bad guys don’t want to bring it down.”

While having a .secure top level domain would be a clear way to alert users to the safety of the site they’re visiting, it will add a burden for organizations if it becomes an industry standard. Would every company have to secure a version of their brand on this new top level domain in order to process payments, for example?

As the leaks continue about the ICANN top level domain applications, we can expect more of these debates to arise.