ICANN: Privates leaked in top-level domain land grab blunder
gTLD applications viewable by rival web biz barons
ICANN has revealed that it took down its top-level domain application system yesterday after discovering a potentially serious data leakage vulnerability.
As El Reg reported earlier today, ICANN shut down its TLD Application System (TAS) – the web application companies use to apply for new gTLDs – due to unspecified "unusual behaviour".
The organisation has now revealed that while there was no "attack" as such, it had found that some TAS users could access data belonging to other TAS users.
"We have learned of a possible glitch in the TLD application system software that has allowed a limited number of users to view some other users’ file names and user names in certain scenarios," COO Akram Atallah said in a statement.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we took the system offline to protect applicant data," he added. "We are examining how this issue occurred and considering appropriate steps forward."
The vulnerability has potentially serious implications due to the level of secrecy surrounding the majority of new gTLD applications.
Companies in general don't want to reveal which gTLDs they are applying for while the ICANN application window is still open. If it were revealed that Coca-Cola had applied for .drink, for example, that might prompt Pepsi to file a competing application.
Because ICANN's method of last resort for resolving these so-called "contention sets" is an auction, a prematurely revealed application could therefore wind up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars – even millions of dollars – more.
It's quite possible that gTLD strings may have been included in the leaked user names and file names, though ICANN has yet to confirm the extent of this problem.
It's also not yet known which applicants had access to which other applicants' data, and whether any of the leaked information was acted upon.
The new gTLD application window was due to close yesterday at 1159 UTC, but ICANN shut down the TAS about 12 hours before the deadline after becoming aware of the vulnerability.
The filing deadline has now been extended until next Friday, but ICANN does not plan to bring the TAS back online until Tuesday, by which time it expects to have fixed the bug. ®
you missed an opportunity
The it should have read:
.privates .leaked .in .top-level .domain .land .grab .blunder
In fact, you should do this for all ICANN articles, just like using ! for Yahoo!
I'm not impressed with corporations being allowed take ownership of generic terms such as 'drink', 'music' etc... .cocacola and .mafiaa are OK but this is like a reverse domain-squatting on written language itself.
In some cases it could lead to certain brands or companies inferring that they are the only regulator and provider of legitimate services, rather than just another competitor in a market.
So, it was closed 12 hours early. And they are re-opening on Tuesday and closing on Friday - 3 or 4 days to replace those 12hours.
Perhaps that extra time is to ensure that anyone who has discovered someone else's TLD choice has time to put in a competitive application? If just a few of those generate extra millions each it's a pretty large windfall for ICANN.