Running a responsible ccTLD

12th September 2017

Oli Hope

Oli Hope
Director of Registry Services

The phrase ‘strong and stable’ has had some bad press this year. Political overuse aside, we remain proud to say that both words apply accurately to our running of the UK’s country code top level domain (ccTLD). For over twenty years we have been working to maintain the relevance, stability, security and safety of the .UK domain. We keep pace with the criminals, stay ahead of the trends and ensure everyone understands the benefits of being part of the UK’s namespace.

Like many of our fellow ccTLD registries, we are alert to the multitude of cyber threats facing our industry. We have invested significantly in our infrastructure and have developed a sophisticated network analytics capability, which can process the billions of requests moving around our DNS infrastructure and provide actionable insight.

The DNS can identify unusual patterns and trends that can be indicative of network threats and potentially criminal behaviours. Using the data we gather, we can protect our DNS but also provide insight to third party clients using it to see what is happening with their own system, either to help mitigate a cyber attack or gather data in the aftermath.

As a country code registry, it’s been important to maintain equitable access to the namespace. As more people and businesses have been getting online, they are eager to protect their commercial assets or challenge those who they feel are encroaching on their online space. We believe in a fair .UK for all involved, and to that end we take pride in our efficient tackling of complaints via our Dispute Resolution Service (DRS). Each year we publish an annual report into the number of disputes resolved, with the most recent report finding that 703 complainants used the DRS in 2016; the equivalent of disputes concerning just 0.0074% of our Domains Under Management.

We maintain a strong customer service within the registry for the .UK domain through a large, award-winning team committed to responding swiftly to customer questions and queries. Each week we receive great feedback, reassuring us that personal, attentive and effective service is a crucial aspect of maintaining the appeal of for a .UK domain for registrants, and provides a valued support for registrars.

A mature ccTLD registry needs to be actively maintaining the database but also look to grow to remain relevant in a changing market, especially as the rate of domain registrations plateau after years of growth. The growing pressure from new gTLDs is set to increase when the second round of applications opens (circa 2019). There is additional pressure from existing ccTLDs that are often smartly marketed to expand beyond their borders, such as .co.

One of the ways we try to proactively generate more registrations is by making the case to those who don’t believe they need a .UK or don’t understand the benefits. The area for potential growth includes new, small businesses who require a digital footprint. Our sister site, The UK Domain, publishes a wealth of information about how to get and maximise a .UK site to help everyone from the technically minded to those who just want to get started with minimum fuss. Additionally, we have run campaigns to target specific groups, such as millennial mums starting a business, students looking to boost their online profile or tradespeople who remain unaware of the benefits of a website.

For those of us operating ccTLD registrations, retention and growth both matter. As the market is likely to keep changing in line with evolving digital technology and the release of new gTLDs in the coming years, we know we will have to continue to raise our game. We will continue to safeguard our systems from changing threats, continue to provide a superb service and refine our methods of underlining the benefits of a unique online home.

If you’d like to find out more about Registry Services, please get in touch.