What’s Safe?

Another example of why you can’t really trust software to tell you whether a website is dangerous or not. The Register reports that a Trusted search software labels fraud site as ‘safe’:  

Digital certificate firm GeoTrust’s launch of a search engine with built in trust features this week has been marred by the classification of a phishing site as genuine. Powered by Ask Jeeves, GeoTrust TrustWatch search aims to protect users against fraudulent behaviour and phishing attacks by giving web sites a verification rating. It’s a laudable aim, but the classification of a recently created phishing site as “verified as safe” raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of the technology. Such incorrect classifications create a false sense of security that can only play into the hands of would-be fraudsters.

As I’ve explained elsewhere, it’s more dangerous to offer a service that claims to warn you about phishing–related and other dodgy websites if you can’t guarantee 100% success, as it merely lulls a user into a false sense of security. Another reason why these things won’t work is the false positive, which EarthLink found to its (temporary) cost.

The Future Of Domain Names?

Interesting piece from The Register’s Kieren McCarthy on the changing nature of domain names. He points to the recent case of a guy renting out beef.com to allow People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to lead a very successful campaign on the BSE issue. In the future, individuals and companies may end up renting out domain names rather than selling them:

As anyone who follows the domain name market will tell you, the price of domains has recovered and is almost standing at pre-dotcom-bust figures. It makes sense then that some speculators may invest in an expensive domain and then lease it out to people in fixed-term contracts – just like the housing market. You need not sell the domain completely – you simply accept a long-term lease or even monthly rents, depending on the market and the domain.

The Register reckon this might redress some of the imbalance in the domain name market, pulling “God-like power over domains away from companies like VeriSign which have abused the market for long enough but are impossible to remove”.

News: The Power Of The Net

 Pointed out by my old friend Robin Lubbock, here’s an excellent essay by Dan Gillmor on the self-righting Internet community, where one bad turn is usually overwritten by several good ones. He makes some sharp comments on the VeriSign ‘domain-stealing’ controversy, which I haven’t touched on in this blog. The bottom line: there are some pretty awful people out there, but they usually get drowned out by the decent folk. Long may it last.