Skip to main content

Lending Clarity to Security Risk Definitions - For ICANN Community and Beyond

Security risk clarity 750x500 16mar16 en

In its Beijing Communiqué [PDF, 155 KB] of 11 April 2013, the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC) called on ICANN to have new gTLD registry operators find and act upon a variety of abusive activities occurring within their TLDs. This led to a requirement in all new gTLD contracts:

Registry Operator will periodically conduct a technical analysis to assess whether domains in the TLD are being used to perpetrate security threats, such as pharming, phishing, malware, and botnets. Registry Operator will maintain statistical reports on the number of security threats identified and the actions taken as a result of the periodic security checks. [Specification 11, paragraph 3.b]

Due partly to time constraints, this language was purposefully left general and without detail. On 25 June 2013, the New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) of ICANN's Board of Directors issued a resolution (Resolution 2013.06.25.NG02) that calls for a Framework to define details [PDF, 72 KB] regarding how registry operators will conduct that threat analysis and what kinds of follow-up actions may be suitable.

For effective policy development, all parties must share a clear understanding of the definitions of these security risks. They should also understand the way that threat data are collected and reported for these risks. In Lending Clarity to Security Risk Definitions [PDF, 96 KB] we provide definitions of four fundamental types of security or abuse risks for which monitoring and reporting can be implemented: phishing, malware, spam, and botnet command-and-control. We explain how threat data for these risks are collected and reported today. We examine relationships (similarities or characteristics) of certain security risks currently under consideration in order to lend clarity to the ease or difficulty of collecting or reporting threat data.


    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."