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ICANN says 'Yes we can' to new gTLDs despite fraud worries

In an effort to expand the number of internet domains, ICANN is now accepting applications to register any word, including words in non-Latin alphabets, as a gTLD suffix (such as the current .com, .org, .gov, and .edu). Interested parties have until April 12 to submit an application.

Not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of hundreds, or even thousands, of new gTLDs in scores of alphabets. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned that rapid expansion of gTLDs will only exacerbate problems related to consumer fraud. “We write now to highlight again the potential for significant consumer harm resulting from the unprecedented increase in new gTLDs”, the FTC wrote in a Dec.16 letter to ICANN.

In addition, ISACA, the not-for-profit IT security association, has warned that the move to non-Latin characters could lead to a significant increase in phishing attacks. The problem, according to Peter Wood, a member of ISACA and founder of First Base Technologies, is that there are likely to be attempts to confuse users by replacing conventional web address URLs and TLDs with non-Latin scripts.

"Glyphs representing certain characters from different scripts might appear similar or even identical. For example, in many fonts, Cyrillic lower-case A ('a') is indistinguishable from Latin lower-case A ('a')….An unscrupulous host site can use this visual ambiguity to pretend to be another site in a spoofing attack", he warned.

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