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Most Spam Sites Tied to Just 10 Registrars

According to a report by Knujon.com (“No Junk” spelled backwards) nearly 83 percent of all spam messages on the web can be traced back to just 10 domain registrars.

Knujon, an anti-spam outfit that aims to convince registrars to dismantle spam sites, bases its report on millions of spam messages it has collected over the past year.

While there are just over 900 accredited domain name registrars on the ICANN list, Knujon claims that a massive percentage of those spam messages originate from sites whose domain names are registered from a list of 10 registrars.

The Knujon list ranks the 10 registrars as follows:
1. XinNet Cyber Information Company Limited
2. eNom
3. Network Solutions
4. Register.com
5. Planet Online
6. Regtime Ltd.
7. OnlineNIC Inc.
8. Spot Domain LLC
9. Wild West Domains
10. Hichina Web Solutions

According to an article in the Washington Post, Knujon co-founder Gareth Bruen said registrars made his list based on “the number of reported illicit domains held by the registrar; the number unsolicited messages used to advertise those domains; the percentage of illicit domains compared to the registrar’s total portfolio; the rate of unsolicited emails for the total illicit domains.” Additionally, if two registrars tied for points as a result of the above criteria, the tie was broken based on “the registrar’s volume of unlicensed online pharmacies”.

It is interesting to note that 4 of the registrars that made Knujon’s list are some of the most popular registrars around. According to registrarstats.com, eNom which occupies spot 2 in the list above has the second-largest portfolio of domains in the world. NetSol, which occupies spot 3 on Knujon’s list is the world’s fourth-largest registrar. Spot 4 in Knujon’s list is occupied by Register.com, which is the eighth largest registrar world-wide while Wild West Domains which appears ninth on the list, is seventh in terms of overall market share of domain registrations in the world.

It is also interesting to note that even though Godaddy (the number 1 domain registrar in the world according to the volume of registrars) does not occupy a spot in Knujon’s list, Wild West Domains (a Godaddy reseller service) takes up spot 9 on the list of domain registrars most favoured by spammers.

Each story has two sides to it however, and as reported in the Washington Post article, folks from eNom and domainsite.com did not speak favourable of the Knujon study when approached for commentary.

Bill Mushkin, chief executive at domainsite.com, called Bruen’s study “amazingly unscientific”, and said it fails to measure how well registrars respond to reports about spammy domains. He also indicated that while registrars have a duty under their contract with ICANN to suspend domains with blatantly false or missing data in their WHOIS contact records, they are not obligated to shut down domains advertised in spam.

“I do not believe it is our duty. It would be great for us if there were some sort of governing body that says you need to shut them down, because the downside of shutting anybody off is that if you’re wrong, you’re really screwing up someone’s life or businesses,” Mushkin said. “If it were black and white and simple and we knew for sure in each case, it would be really easy. But it’s not like that.”

eNom questioned the reliability of Knujon’s data, saying eNom investigates customers suspected of using its products and services for sending spam and if they are found to be doing the wrong thing, the company “takes appropriate action to resolve the situation.”

eNom emailed Security Fix with the following statement:

“We hope to have an opportunity to review KnuJon’s research and understand their formulas for pulling together this data, as we question their algorithm and its ability to accurately measure which registrars are fighting spam the most, or which are the most spam-friendly,”

To read the rest of this intriguing article, go here.

3 comments

  1. “Wild West Domains (a Godaddy reseller) ”

    I do not believe Wild West Domains (WWD)is a GoDaddy reseller.

    I don’t believe WWD sells domains retail.

    WWD is a division of GoDaddy that offers a Reseller service to anyone willing to pay the yearly fee.

    ALL customer service for WWD Reseller domains is handled by GoDaddy not WWD.

    At least that’s been my experience.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out Patrick, I meant to say Reseller Service but I must have missed it on the review. I haven’t seen WWD sell domains directly either.

  3. I have been hunting email spammers since 04 March 2010 when I received 600 spams a day. With cooperation from governments of most countries and social welfare organizations, by mid April most individual spammers were hunted away. Only organized spam from corrupt telecom heads of six countries – India, China, Vietnam, Korea, Brazil, Ukraine – all CERT members – continued. They have been luring telecom heads of other nations – Indonesia, Colombia, Chile – into lucrative terrorist career. Around 08 May, the organized spam also ceased after complaints with FBI IC3. Only one spammer – one of above six – had suddenly increased every day spam from 50 to 600 during late 2009 – with accounts in all countries. Presently, he manages to send about 10 spams a day from old/new accounts.
    Most referenced domains are booked in Russia with .ru extension and owned in China, Korea, Moldova – listed at http://huntspam.net/telecom . When an individual like me can reduce every day spam from 600 to 10, organized efforts can eliminate spam in no time.

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