Phishing sites online for an average of 19 hours

Hackers and cybercriminals who try to make victims with rogue sites are having a harder time. Phishing websites were online for just 19 hours on average in 2021. That’s a decrease of 13.6 per cent from the previous year when such sites were online for an average of 22 hours.

This is what Stichting Internet Domeinregistratie Nederland (SIDN) writes in its annual report (PDF).

Taking cyber resilience to the next level

In the annual report, the foundation reflects on what it has done and achieved in the past year. 2021 saw several highlights for the foundation. To start with, it was exactly 25 years ago in January that Piet Beertema, together with Ted Lindgreen and Boudewijn Nederkoorn, founded SIDN. Another milestone is that the .nl domain celebrated its 35th anniversary. The Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI) in Amsterdam was the first to register a .nl domain name: cwi.nl.

SIDN’s work is more important than ever. More than ever, the internet is an integral part of our lives. This is largely due to the corona crisis: the pandemic caused us to work from home en masse last year and to visit the office less often. “It is important for the Netherlands to innovate, seize opportunities and at the same time quickly raise cyber resilience to a higher level,” said Roelof Meijer, SIDN’s general manager.

The consequence of this ‘hyperdigitization’ is that we are increasingly dependent on the internet. “And that makes a reliable digital world with an open, accessible and secure internet more important than ever before,” we read in the annual report.

Phishing sites will be online for an average of 19 hours in 2021

Due to the corona pandemic, the .nl domain grew beyond expectations in the past two years. In the first half of 2021, more than 100,000 .nl domain names were added. The number of cancellations fell sharply. All in all, SIDN currently manages more than 6.2 million .nl domain names.

According to the foundation, a safe internet is essential to cultivate trust in online services. Digital security and cyber resilience are therefore important themes for SIDN. One of the services that the foundation offers is Brand Monitoring. Cybercriminals who abuse a company or organization’s brand name in a malicious domain name can then take steps to prevent the infringement. In the course of the year, the foundation will add logo detection.

Another SIDN action point to improve the reliability of digital services is tackling phishing sites. These are websites that try to steal login details or other confidential data from visitors. In order to limit the number of victims of this kind of malicious practice, it is necessary that phishing sites are taken offline as soon as possible. SIDN has succeeded in this. In 2021, phishing sites were online for an average of 19 hours. By way of comparison: in 2020 that was on average 22 hours. This makes the .nl domain one of the safest top-level domains in the world.

Phishing sites online for an average of 19 hours
Source: SIDN Annual Report 2021 (page 24)

Raising awareness of cybercrime

For the coming year, SIDN wants to further improve the digital resilience of Dutch companies and organisations. In addition to logo detection, the foundation focuses on LEMMINGS. LEMMINGS is an acronym that stands for the L et E d do M ain  M a I l war N in  S ystem. With this program, the foundation warns former owners of a .nl domain name if legitimate e-mails are sent to the discontinued domain name.

“We do this by sending them a warning email if we discover a certain level of requests for mail (MX) records in the DNS traffic for the cancelled domain name. LEMMINGS does not process any information about the e-mail itself, such as the sender, recipient or content of the e-mail,” says SIDN about the alarm system.

Last year, SIDN launched a special landing page in collaboration with the National Internet Reporting Point. It contains all .nl domain names that have been taken down by the foundation and the police. The initiators want to use this not only to reduce the amount of cybercrime but also to make companies and organizations more aware of the consequences of internet crime. This initiative will be continued next year.

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