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Wednesday 17 September 2003 01:05:00 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Verisign, the registry operator for the .com and .net top level domains has infuriated Internet users by introducing a wildcard DNS record for these TLDs breaking many things on the Internet. The most obvious effect of this is that users typing a website address into their browser ending in ".com" or ".net" which does not have a validly registered domain will find that instead of receiving an error stating that the host cannot be resolved, they will see Verisign's own "SiteFinder" service:

Making a mistake when typing a URL into a browser will cause you to be misdirected to a site operated by Verisign

This behaviour isn't new and has been seen before with commercialised country-code top level domains such as ".cc" (Cocos Keeling Islands) but it has never been implemented on a popular top level domain as .com and .net. Many Internet Explorer users will be used to seeing a search engine when typing an address that does not exist, but what makes this different is it takes the decision away from a browser the user has a choice over and forces it on every net user.

This is yet another failure by ICANN to clamp down on the commercialisation of namespace. Verisign sits on a goldmine in being able to set the wholesale prices for the every single .com and .net domain in the world and this change is abusing a resource they were given on a plate when Network Solutions (a company they acquired) was managing the three well known gTLDs (.com, .net and .org).

Very few technically minded users are happy with this change and Community Internet has been one of the first ISPs to implement a workaround by redirecting users to another page and others are considering patching DNS resolvers / cacheing nameservers to ignore these records properly. In the meantime, more information on why this is bad can be found here. [seb]


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