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Internet Adds 4.5 Million Domain Names in First Quarter of 2011

The Domain Name Industry Brief (Volume 8 / Issue 2 / May 2011) – Verisign provides this briefing to highlight to industry analysts, media, and businesses important trends in domain name registration, including key performance indicators and growth opportunities.Four and a half million domain names were added to the Internet in the first three months of 2011, according to the latest Domain Name Industry Brief published by Verisign, Inc., the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the networked world.

The first quarter of 2011 closed with a base of more than 209.8 million domain name registrations across all Top Level Domains (TLDs), or a 2.2 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2010. Registrations grew by 15.3 million, or 7.9 percent year over year.

Verisign’s combined base of .com and .net domain names experienced aggregate growth in the first quarter of 2011, surpassing a total of 108 million names. New .com and .net registrations totaled 8.3 million during the first quarter. The total represents a 9.2 percent increase year over year in new registrations, and a 2.7 percent increase from the fourth quarter. The .com/.net renewal rate for the first quarter was 73.8 percent, up from 72.7 percent from the fourth quarter.

The base of Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) was 81.7 million domain names, a 2.1 percent increase quarter over quarter, and a 5.1 percent increase year over year.

Verisign’s average daily Domain Name System (DNS) query load during the quarter was 57 billion, with a peak of 67 billion. Compared to the same timeframe in 2010, the daily average and the peak each grew 6 percent.

DNS Integrity, Availability and the Growing Threats Facing New TLDs

The latest Domain Name Industry Brief also highlights the security considerations for new generic TLD (gTLD) operators—along with the importance of improving integrity and availability in combating security threats. As the DNS expands to make room for more TLDs, it is vital to remain vigilant against cyber threats that increasingly target the DNS. If the DNS is compromised, the entire Internet is at risk.

In the past decade, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks have increased in both frequency and severity. A weapon of choice for cyber criminals, DDoS attacks occur when hackers use malicious code to “enslave” unprotected PCs and cause them to overload a single target with Internet traffic, effectively taking the target offline. Bringing down a TLD can simultaneously wreak havoc on millions of sites and hundreds of millions of users. These are the realities that all TLD operators—even those that are small and new—face as they work to serve the registrars, registrants, and consumers who rely on them.

One essential safeguard against threats to the DNS itself is DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC). Now being deployed around the world, DNSSEC addresses the problem of so-called “man-in-the-middle” attacks—in which attackers spoof DNS data—by allowing for the authentication of that data. As DNSSEC gets deployed more extensively throughout the Internet, these types of attacks should decline significantly.

With DNSSEC implemented at the root-server level, and in leading TLDs like .com, .net, .org and many others, the integrity of the DNS has taken a step forward. But as important as integrity is to the smooth and reliable operation of the DNS, another crucial element of information security—availability—may be even more critical.

When a network or TLD becomes unavailable—even for a short time—it has a trickledown effect. Everything else must be put on hold until it can be brought back online. This makes upholding availability a priority, especially for TLD operators. And while there are many issues that can cause network downtime, DDoS attacks are one of the most significant and unpredictable.

Verisign recently commissioned a market research report surveying 225 IT decision-makers in the U.S. from large and medium-sized businesses, which revealed that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents who reported experiencing a DDoS attack in the past year, sustained more than one attack. Eleven percent of surveyed businesses were hit six or more times.

In this rapidly evolving threat environment, traditional DDoS mitigation tactics such as bandwidth over-provisioning, firewalls and intrusion prevention system (IPS) devices are no longer solely sufficient to protect networks, applications and services. For many TLD operators, third-party DDoS mitigation services from specialized experts should help bridge the technology gap in defending their networks from an ever-widening array of threats and challenges.

One of the ways that Verisign is working to help network operators address these challenges is through Verisign DDoS Protection Services. Based on the company’s expertise in successfully defending its global DNS infrastructure against DDoS and other attacks for more than a decade, Verisign DDoS Protection Services are cloud-based, network and hardware agnostic DDoS monitoring and mitigation services that detect and filter malicious traffic in the cloud so it never reaches the network. This approach enables IT teams to keep critical online applications and services available without requiring large investments in infrastructure or over-provisioning.

Verisign publishes the Domain Name Industry Brief to provide Internet users throughout the world with significant statistical and analytical research and data on the domain name industry and the Internet as a whole. Copies of the 2011 first quarter Domain Name Industry Brief, as well as previous reports, can be obtained here.

By Verisign, A Global Provider of Critical Internet Infrastructure and Domain Name Registry Services

Verisign, a global provider of domain name registry services and internet infrastructure, enables internet navigation for many of the world’s most recognized domain names. Verisign enables the security, stability, and resiliency of key internet infrastructure and services, including providing root zone maintainer services, operating two of the 13 global internet root servers, and providing registration services and authoritative resolution for the .com and .net top-level domains, which support the majority of global e-commerce. To learn more about what it means to be Powered by Verisign, please visit Verisign.com.

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