Over 28,000 domains suspended as law enforcement and industry keep .UK safe

21st November 2019

Responsible for running and keeping the .UK internet infrastructure secure, Nominet has today published its update on .UK domains suspended for criminal activity over the 12 months to October 2019. Nominet suspends domains following notification from the police or other law enforcement agencies that the domain is being used for criminal activity.

The statistics

  • The criminality report shows that the number of .UK domains suspended between 1 November 2018 and 31 October 2019 has seen a small reduction year on year at 28,937 – down from 32,813. This represents around 0.22% of the more than 13 million .UK domains currently registered.
  • Nominet collaborates with ten reporting organisations and received requests from five of these. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) which processes and co-ordinates requests relating to IP infringements from nationwide sources is the main reporting agency with 28,606 requests, followed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (178) and Trading Standards (90), Financial Conduct Authority (48) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (31).
  • The number of requests that didn’t result in a suspension was 16 – down from 114 in the previous year. Reasons for requests not resulting in suspension include the domain already being suspended due to a parallel process, the domain already being transferred on a court order, or the registrant modifying the website to become compliant following notification.
  • The number of suspensions that were reversed was five. A suspension is reversed if the offending behaviour has stopped and the enforcing agency has since confirmed that the suspension can be lifted.
  • The report also provides an update on domains suspended and blocked under Nominet’s proscribed terms policy, introduced in May 2014. Over 1,600 newly registered domains were flagged as potential breaches, but no suspensions were made, indicating a high number of false positives. Over the same period there were 0 suspension requests from the Internet Watch Foundation on Child Sexual Abuse Images (CSAM) on .UK domains.
  • For the same period, Domain Watch – Nominet’s anti-phishing initiative that suspends suspicious domains at the point of registration – saw 2,668 domains suspended. When identified as high risk of phishing, domains will not resolve in the DNS until extra diligence is conducted and we are satisfied that the registration does not pose a phishing risk. If a domain is suspended, the registrant will receive an email informing them what has happened, together with the next steps required if they feel the suspension was not correctly applied. Of these, 274 successfully passed our additional due diligence and completed the registration process.

Russell Haworth, Nominet’s CEO says: “It’s encouraging to see that our efforts, working closely with the law enforcement community, are having a demonstrable impact on the ability of those intent on causing serious mischief online. We will not tolerate .UK domains being used for criminal activity. Suspensions have fallen for the first time since 2014 indicating that using collective established processes combined with technology-driven interventions is, it seems, acting as a deterrent.”

Detective Constable Weizmann Jacobs of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit said:

“Partnership working is vital in the fight against intellectual property crime. We work closely with Nominet and the law enforcement community to disrupt criminals who try to operate in the .UK domain and the figures released today demonstrates the success we have had in doing so.

“By collaborative working, we can help protect consumers from the dangers of counterfeit goods and safeguard their personal information when shopping online. When consumers purchase from illicit sites, they are unknowingly handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often use these to commit further crime.

“In light of the figures Nominet have released, and in the run up to Christmas, we would like to warn online shoppers that there’s more risk when it’s counterfeit. If it looks too good to be true then it probably is; heavily discounted products are often a tell-tale sign that something isn’t right.”

Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Solutions at Nominet comments: “We are constantly looking for ways to improve .UK for the millions of individuals and businesses that rely on it. Using Domain Watch to catch domains such as hmrc-taxrefund-gov.co.uk, login-micorosoftoffice.co.uk and netfllx.uk, intent on confusing people for criminal gain is proving fruitful, but we and other likeminded partners as well as individuals must not rest on our laurels. The criminals certainly won’t.”

See the infographic for full details of the report.

Tracking online criminal activity

As the trusted guardian of the .UK namespace Nominet also provides the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) – Nominet’s award winning mediation based process for resolving disputes between parties over the registration or use of .UK domain names. It aims to provide a clear, quick and cost-effective process outside of the formal court system and is accessible and fair to both those complaining and domain name registrants.


About Nominet

Nominet is driven by a commitment to use technology to improve connectivity, security and inclusivity online.  For over 20 years, Nominet has run the .UK internet infrastructure, developing an expertise in the Domain Name System (DNS) that now underpins sophisticated network analytics used by governments and enterprises to mitigate cyber threats.  The company provides registry services for top level domains, and is exploring applications for a range of emerging technologies. A profit with a purpose company, Nominet supports initiatives that contribute to a vibrant digital future. www.nominet.uk