NZ territory Tokelau named world's riskiest domain

Tokelau (.tk) and Niue(.nu) give out domains for free and that appeals to scammers, says McAfee

Tokelau, still technically a New Zealand territory, has been named as having the riskiest internet domain in the world by security company McAfee.

More than 10% of sites on the .tk domain are considered dangerous and lead all other national domains in the percentage of sites that harbour exploits. McAfee also mentioned Niue in its report among other island nations around the globe that may be used for spamming or for hosting malicious software.

Tokelau’s Administrator David Payton, who also head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Special Relations Unit, says he looks at the report with considerable concern for both Niue and Tokelau.

He says Tokelau is concerned at the report and has been working on the issue for a number of years. Efforts are being made to rectify the situation, but the island feels powerless to regain control of the domain.

Aricles provided by Computerworld on the McAfee report were forwarded to the Council for Ongoing Government of Tokelau, effectively the island nation’s Cabinet, Payton says.

“They too are concerned,” he says. “I had hoped for a formal response but they too are very concerned. It’s the type of attention Tokelau neither seeks nor wants.”

Payton says neither nation has control over its domain, but he was unable by press time to explain how this came about. In a statement the Niue governmentsaid its .nu domain was controlled by US-based William Semich.

McAfee analysed 8.1 million of the world’s most trafficked web sites, registered on 265 TLDs such as .com and .biz, along with country-specific ones such as jp for Japan.

“Small islands with their own TLDs remain troublesome,” McAfee says.

“Tokelau (.tk) and Niue(.nu) give out domains for free. That’s good for scammers, who often need to register new domains because older ones are blocked by security software. Niue also allows anonymous registration of websites.”

New Zealand domain name commissioner Debbie Monaghan takes issue with one part of the McAfee study.

“(The) .nu names are not available free. There is a NZ$60 per annum charge unless you are a resident of Niue, and with only 900 residents and less than 20 local domain names, this is somewhat easy to police.”

Monaghan says it’s not appropriate to comment on the policies of other country codes such as .tk or .nu but that it is important to note that policy applicable to a ccTLD is normally developed in conjunction with the local internet community.

McAfee say the “info” domain ranks first among generic TLDs for its percentage of risky sites, at 7.5%, and the “.com” domain as second, with 5.5% of its websites considered questionable.

The McAfee report says 18.5% of websites registered under the “.st” TLD are considered “risky” for either spam or other malicious activity. That TLD belongs to Sao Tome and Principe, a tiny country west of Gabon.

McAfee noted that Niue has a “no tolerance” policy against spammers, but says it isn’t a deterrent.

— Additional reporting by Gregg Keizer

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