200,000 domains put on hold to protect Kiwis

08 December 2016

A joint venture between New Zealand’s largest domain name and web hosting company and providers of the .kiwi domain name will see 200,000 domains put on hold for a year, protecting them from abuse, and giving their owners time to develop their domain strategy.

Umbrellar and Dot Kiwi have joined forces to help protect New Zealand businesses and individuals from potential phishing attacks and unwanted cyber-squatting. The 75,000 people and entities that own 200,000 domain names with Umbrellar, will have the equivalent .kiwi domain put on hold for a year while they decide if protecting .kiwi fits in with their overall domain name strategy.

Brendan Wilde, Marketing Manager at Umbrellar, says that globally, cyber security breaches and domain squatting are on the rise, and in general New Zealanders are too relaxed about taking steps to protect themselves.

“We saw a risk for our customers and approached Dot Kiwi to see how we could help protect them. This deal gives our customers some breathing space, allowing them to decide whether or not they want to purchase the .kiwi domain. As a result, no one else can come along and purchase this version over the next year.

“We’ve got more than 200,000 domains that we manage and the reality is that most of their owners haven’t stopped to think about what else they need to do to protect their space online. For a lot of them protecting the .kiwi version is a wise decision,” says Mr Wilde.

To overcome ever-increasing breaches, including phishing scams, which are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out personal information including usernames, password, and/or money, and cybersquatting, which is the practice of registering domains in the hope of reselling at a profit, New Zealanders need to consider the implications of not protecting themselves online.

Angus Richardson, Managing Director of Dot Kiwi, says after the introduction of hundreds of new domain names in the last three years, businesses and individuals need to change their thinking about domains and be aware of the potential risks like that from spear phishing, which uses information from a company’s website or social media to replicate their content and design.

“Recent research in New Zealand shows one in ten Kiwis are likely to fall for scam emails(1). Globally, spear-phishing directed toward company employees increased by 55% last year(2). So the risks are very real.

“Businesses aren’t going to own every iteration of their URL and email address, there are just too many options available. But they need to think about which ones resonate with their customers, and stakeholders. All it takes is for one scam email to be sent to your customers from a domain matching your brand, and the reputational damage could be substantial.

“Umbrellar’s initiative will give a large number of New Zealand domain owners time to assess their needs, and overall domain strategy. Most importantly, with instances of phishing and spear-phishing on the rise, it also offers them some protection for the next 12 months,” says Mr Richardson.

To further educate and support New Zealand businesses, Dot Kiwi has collated a report about cyber security in New Zealand, with advice on how to be protected online. The report can be found here


(2) Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, 21 Apr 2016