It’d be nice to be able to talk about something other than the COVID-19 pandemic. It’d be really nice to be able to talk about pretty much anything else, but unfortunately I can’t.

Over the past couple of weeks, as you know, we’ve switched around how we do things, with our entire staff now working from home. It’s not normal, but we’re in the fortunate position of being able to operate “as normal”.

But, unfortunately, it is “business as usual” for cybercriminals.

We’ve published some tips from Europol and will continue to share any tips and tricks to help raise awareness via our social media outlets. With so many people working from home the threat surface has increased dramatically in a very short time period. (I’d also recommend you watch or listen to our recent interview with Eileen from INEX where she talks about the increased internet usage)

But what does any of this mean in practical terms for our clients?

As you probably know we are a domain name registrar ie. a company that sells domain names to businesses and individuals. We also sell services that people can use with those domains, such as email and website hosting and much much more.

We work directly with the various domain name registries, as well as being actively involved with ICANN and various other organisations.

The Registrar Stakeholder Group, of which we are members, has published a document outlining measures that domain name registrars might wish to consider when dealing with domains registered with terms related to the current crisis.

Our approach internally has never been to block domains from being registered. We are in communication with our registry partners as well as with An Garda Síochána, the Irish police, and will follow our policies and processes while respecting Irish law.

So has anything changed with the domain registries?

As an Irish company we obviously deal primarily with Irish businesses and organisations who naturally want to register .ie domain names. The .ie registration policies are fairly robust and so have not changed in the current situation. If you want to register a .ie domain name you’ll have to provide some proof of identity as well as your “connection” to Ireland. That has not changed.

Across the water Nominet, who are the .uk domain name registry, are taking a slightly different approach to registrations that they deem to be “risky”. As they explain in a recent blog post, they have suspended over 180 domains pending receipt of extra information from the domain name registrants. What that means is that if you are registering a *.uk domain name with an “obvious” link to COVID-19 that you will probably need to provide documentation outlining your intent for the domain before it’ll be enabled.

Another domain name extension that is popular with Irish and other European organisations is the .eu domain name, which is designed to serve the European Union.

EURid, who run .eu on behalf of the European Commission, are adopting a slightly different approach. They have been using an AI based system to detect potentially “bad” domain names for several months and have updated it to specifically target domains that are “related” to the pandemic. What that means is that if you attempt to register a domain that contains a keyword (string) related to COVID-19 then the domain will not go live immediately and you will need to provide EURid with both proof of your contact details as well as a statement that the domain is being registered in “good faith”. They’re also applying this new process to existing domain registrations and failure to provide the information will result in the domain being suspended and it and any related services rendered unusable.

If you run into issues registering domain names just let our team know and please please please respond to the emails that we send you.

But let’s be positive!

There’s a lot of great energy in the broad Irish and international internet community. We’ve seen a growing number of really interesting and helpful resources for businesses and people spring up in the last few weeks. Even if you’re stuck indoors you can still shop for food or interact with others. The internet is, overall, an incredibly positive force in all our lives!

And remember – STAY AT HOME.