TheInternet is preparing for its largest expansion in a generation with the imminent addition of 1,400 Top Level Domains (TLD) to the approximately 22 that are now in common use in the United States, including .COM, .EDU, .INFO, .BIZ and others. Internet users will be able to navigate, for example, to new generic TLDs, such as .SHOP or .NYC and to branded TLDs, such as .AMERICANEXPRESS OR .ATHLETA.
This expansion, while anticipated to bring innovation to the web, will also expand the opportunity for bad actors to take advantage of unwary consumers. The expansion will impact Internet use in many other ways, in terms of safety, security, consumer targeting, product branding, navigation, and advertising.
Internet users can arm themselves with information abot this coming change and practice caution to make the experience safe and rewarding.
Many major brands will launch .BRANDS. Many will stick with their .COM sites.
What does that mean for you?
There will be no standard way to look for your favorite brands. But you can also be sure of the authenticity and security of a .BRAND site because all the content provided on that gTLD is assuredly from that brand
Many new generic TLDs will be open, such as .SHOPPING, or .SKI, where entrepreneurs will sell second-level domains to the public. Others will be closed, such as .MERCK or .NISSAN, owned and operated by major brands with no second-level
domains for sale. A third category such as .Pharmacy, will sell second-level domains to specific categories of registrants.
What does this mean for you?
Unless you are sure that an extension is owned by a trustworthy source – say, a brand or a trade association – new TLDs should be treated with the same caution that you would exercise navigating to a .COM or a .INFO site. Know where you are going and with whom you are communicating.
New geographic extensions, such as .NYC and .PARIS, will be available, owned and operated by entrepreneurs who will sell secondary domain names to the general public.
What does this mean for you?
Geographic extensions should be visited with the same caution you would use in visiting a .COM site.
Staying Safe Online – Now, and in the Future
- Stay Alert
Just because a domain name seems to have a brand name in it, does not necessarily mean that it is providing authentic content. Cybersquatters register domain names containing brand names, or typos of brand names, to take advantage of consumers’ trust in those brands. They do it now in extensions like .COM and .INFO, and they will in some of the new extensions. Cybersquatters divert traffic away from legitimate sites, cost businesses in lost revenue and consumer trust, link to advertisements that frustrate consumers, send malware, and deceive consumers into divulging personal information.
- Be skeptical
Small, subtle changes to a website with which you were familiar may mean it is cybersquatted. Any website that offers a chance to win a free product may be cybersquatted. A website that prompts you to submit personal information may be cybersquatted. A website that resolves to a page with nothing but advertisements may be cybersquatted.
Tips for Navigating Content Online
When looking for branded content, navigate to domain names that have been clearly advertised, that you trust, or that are trusted by people you trust.
Scrutinize websites that you aren’t familiar with before divulging personal information.
If you come across a cybersquatted website, contact law enforcement through this portal: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.