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ICANN Org Launches Audit of Registrar Compliance with DNS Security Threat Obligations

LOS ANGELES – 15 January 2021 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced the launch of an audit program aimed at reviewing how registrars are fulfilling their contractual obligations related to addressing reports of potentially abusive domains. This audit follows the 2019 audit program that included all active registry operators, with the objective of understanding how registries were fulfilling their contractual obligations relating to the performance of Security Threats Reporting.

On 11 January 2021, ICANN Contractual Compliance sent pre-audit notifications to the registrars selected for the audit. The selected registrars will receive a Request for Information (RFI) on 25 January 2021 containing the audit questions. The audit includes those registrars that either:

  1. Had at least five (5) domains listed in November 2020 by public reputation blocklists (RBLs). The RBLs identified these domains as potentially being used to perpetrate phishing, malware and/or command and control botnet abuse and/or
  2. Had domains identified in the Security Threat Reports received in the 2019 Registry Operator Compliance Audit Program.

Of the more than 2,380 ICANN-accredited registrars, we identified only 153 that had more than five potentially abusive domains listed in RBLs reviewed in November 2020. The RFIs will ask registrars to provide any documentation related to how they may have addressed the potentially abusive domains.

ICANN Contractual Compliance intends to complete the audit before the end of 3Q 2021.


ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."