Law enforcement cracks the whip on dodgy .UK domains - and it’s working

.uk domain
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The number of .UK domain names that have been suspended following notifications from police and other law enforcement agencies has reduced significantly over the last twelve months, reports say.

According to domain registry Nominet, the number of suspended .UK domain names being used for criminal activities has reduced from 22,158 last year to 3,434 in 2021. The drop was caused in large part by a reduction in counterfeit sites opting for .UK domains, as reported by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

This year, Nominet received a total of 539 separate domain suspension requests from law enforcement agencies in the UK, with 11 out of 13 coming from the company’s own reporting organizations.  

Domain crime

As a result of a number of different safety initiatives, domain registrations were also put on hold in instances in which criminal activity was suspected by Nominet’s anti-phishing service Domain Watch. The service suspended roughly 5,500 domains in all, up from just over 5,000 in 2020.

Nick Wenban-Smith, General Counsel and Head of Stakeholder Relations at Nominet said: “We have seen an increase in some reporting agencies this year, particularly around online fraud, and financial crime. However, the overall number of .UK domains associated with criminality is still lower than previous years which is a positive outcome for all users.” 

“The trend is largely due to a very large reduction in suspensions related to intellectual property crime. This is testament to the success of a joint initiative - Operation Ashiko in collaboration with PIPCU and Nominet - working to reduce the amount of counterfeit sites following a full mapped assessment on the DNS of websites selling and distributing counterfeit goods. For obvious reasons we won’t go into detail of the project, but it has delivered a positive outcome as online criminals are no longer seeing .UK as a viable option.” 

The number of domains that didn’t result in a suspension was 18 – down from 47 in the previous year, largely due to those domains already being suspended and transferred on a court order.

“As guardian of the .UK namespace it’s in our DNA to ensure it is safe and secure for the millions of individuals and businesses who use it,” said Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry and Public Benefit at Nominet.

“It’s always encouraging to see that our collaborative approach with LEAs and our Domain Watch initiative is making a significant dent in the number of domains requiring suspension as .UK becomes increasingly unattractive to criminals.” 

Abigail Opiah
B2B Editor - Web hosting & Website builders

Abigail is a B2B Editor that specializes in web hosting and website builder news, features and reviews at TechRadar Pro. She has been a B2B journalist for more than five years covering a wide range of topics in the technology sector from colocation and cloud to data centers and telecommunications. As a B2B web hosting and website builder editor, Abigail also writes how-to guides and deals for the sector, keeping up to date with the latest trends in the hosting industry. Abigail is also extremely keen on commissioning contributed content from experts in the web hosting and website builder field.