Research published last week shows a decline in the number of .UK web domains suspended for criminal activity over the past 12-months.
According to Nominet, the organisation responsible for running and maintaining the .uk infrastructure, as of October 2019 there were 28,937 suspended domains – compared to 32,813 across the year previous.
This marks the first decrease in the number of suspended criminal domains for five years, according to Nominet. However, in broader terms, the number of potential criminal domains represents just 0.22% of the 13 million .UK domains currently registered.
Over the same period, 2,668 domains were suspended at the point of registration by Domain Watch, Nominet’s anti-phishing initiative.
Nominet suspends domains if they are used for criminal activities once notified by police or other law enforcement agencies. Five of 10 reporting organisations lodged requests with Nominet to take down suspicious domains over the past year, with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) among these.
PIPCU processes requests relating to IP infringements from nationwide sources and is Nominet’s main reporting agency. This year more than 28,000 requests were made by the organisation, along with requests by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, Trading Standards and Financial Conduct Authority.
In total, only five suspensions were reversed over the course of the year, Nominet research shows. A suspension can be reversed provided the offending behaviour has stopped and that the enforcing agency confirms the suspension can be lifted.
Nominet CEO Russell Haworth commented: “It’s encouraging to see that our efforts, working closely with the law enforcement community, are having a demonstrable impact on the ability of those intent on causing serious mischief online.
“We will not tolerate .UK domains being used for criminal activity. Suspensions have fallen for the first time since 2014 indicating that using collective established processes combined with technology-driven interventions is, it seems, acting as a deterrent.”
Detective Constable Weizmann Jacobs of the London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit added: “By collaborative working, we can help protect consumers from the dangers of counterfeit goods and safeguard their personal information when shopping online.
“When consumers purchase from illicit sites, they are unknowingly handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often use these to commit further crime.”
In light of the recent figures published by Nominet, Jacobs warned that consumers should be extra vigilant during the run-up to Christmas.
He added: “If it looks too good to be true then it probably is; heavily discounted products are often a tell-tale sign that something isn’t right.”