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.AI You Ready? A Domain to Add to Your Portfolio… Before Someone Else Does

On the sunny beaches of Anguilla—a small island of just 35 square miles—I’m sure artificial intelligence (AI) is the last thing people are thinking about. The primary industries of Anguilla, set in the Leeward islands in the Caribbean, are tourism and offshore banking. However, this nation has been assigned the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) .AI—which is being repurposed to represent artificial intelligence.

Other country-code extensions that have experienced similar repurposing include:

  • .IO (British Indian Ocean Territory), positioned as a technology domain name with the I and O representing ones and zeros
  • .TV (Tuvalu), most well known for being used by TV and media companies
  • .NU (Niue), used in Nordic countries as an alternative to their local domains as it means “now” in these regions
  • .ME (Montenegro), positioned as a domain for personal use

All the above are recognized by Google as generic domains in its search results, as opposed to being specific to the geographical region. In fact, Google has just announced that .AI will also be treated as a generic domain name, recognizing its significance to brands in the AI industry.

Third parties are already snapping up branded .AI domains, making registering a .AI domain that includes a recognized brand very attractive to threat actors, potentially leaving your brand at risk.

In fact, of the top 100 global technology companies, only 34% have registered their core domain, with some redirecting the web address to their AI web pages (e.g., microsoft.ai). An alarming 63% have already had their names registered by third parties, leaving only 3% still available to register.

Figure 1: Availability of the .AI domain for the top 100 technology companies.
StatusNumber
Available3
Client owned34
Third-party owned63
Grand total100

When I asked Chatbot AI to tell me who should register a .AI domain name, it responded:

“The .AI domain name is commonly associated with artificial intelligence and technology-related industries. Therefore, it may be a good fit for businesses or individuals working in these fields. This includes companies that develop AI software, provide AI-related services, or conduct research in the field of AI. Additionally, the .AI domain may be suitable for businesses or individuals who want to create a unique and memorable online presence. However, anyone can register a .AI domain name if it is available and they meet the registration requirements.”

A pretty good response (and it saved me time writing)! There are two key things to pay attention to from this Chatbot response. First, if you are involved in AI this domain name can be useful to you as it’s relevant to your brand. Second, and more importantly, this domain extension is available for anyone to register—a double-edged sword.

The benefits of registering an .AI domain as part of an overarching domain strategy include:

  1. .AI domains, like generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .COM, are relatively low price, have no restrictions, and have meaning to certain industries
  2. .AI domains can be used to redirect web users to relevant company content
  3. .AI domains can be registered defensively

The first point here is significant—the ease of being able to register a .AI domain means it’s attractive to third parties—especially threat actors—because they are low price and have no restrictions. Your brand’s .AI domain in the wrong hands could put it at risk of phishing, online fraud, website redirection and more.

There has been a significant amount of media coverage recently about the potential use of AI for fraud in the future. This makes registering your brand with a .AI domain extension worth considering to protect your key trademarks. If your brand’s .AI domain has already been registered by a third party, it may be worth considering taking a domain acquisition route. It may also have some use in the future for your organization as new technologies are launched.

By Justin Hartland, Global Director of Account Management at CSC

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Comments

Still selling snake oil through FOMO Ken Ryan  –  Jun 29, 2023 4:06 AM

Did you miss your opportunity to register a name under (.)icu in March of 2020 when it had 6.7 million names?  Rejoice, because it now registers fewer than 200 thousand.  What an opportunity!

The first thing you learned about the web was ‘content is king’.  It’s also the first thing ICANN tried to drum out of your head by claiming domain names (specially ngTLDs) are king.

What AI system is going to care a jot what ngTLD you’ve chosen if it can’t find the answers it wants in your content. 

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